Hepatitis C rates up nationwide: 5 CDC insights on the GI disease needing more attention

New data released from the CDC show the number of hepatitis C virus infections has tripled over the past five years, reaching a 15-year high.

Here are five insights from the data:

1. The rate of new hepatitis C infections is growing the fastest among young people, with the highest overall number of new infections occurring among 20 to 29 year olds.

2. The increased rate among young people can be attributed to the rise in injection drug use associated with the growing opioid epidemic in the U.S.

3. Three-quarters of the 3.5 million Americans living with hepatitis C are baby boomers born between 1945 and 1965 and are six times more likely to be infected than other age groups.

4. Hepatitis C kills more Americans than any other disease reported to the CDC, the agency said. Nearly 20,000 Americans died from hepatitis C related causes in 2015 — the majority of which were 55 and older.

5. The CDC said combating the opioid epidemic will help curb the spread of injection-related diseases like hepatitis C. Possible solutions include better public health surveillance, providing support for research on pain and addiction and advancing better practices for pain management.

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