Monday, November 3, 2014

At The Crossroads, Part 2: Finding Hep C Infections Before It's Too Late

A new series from Rhode Island Public Radio
At The Crossroads: The Rise Of Hepatitis C And The Fight To Stop It

That’s what has happened with hepatitis C. This virus slowly attacks the liver. It’s often 20 years or more before someone who’s infected notices anything wrong. Meanwhile, the infection scars the liver. And that could lead to cirrhosis or even liver cancer. Most of the estimated five million Americans who have chronic hepatitis C are somewhere on this spectrum of sickness right now.

Providing medical assistance to low income Rhode Islanders will cost the state more than projected. One of the major factors behind the increase is the cost of two new drugs.                   
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Addiction usually leaves a wake of chaos, and all kinds of casualties - marriages, jobs, health. Most tragically, the current crisis of opioid addiction (to prescription painkillers and heroin) in Rhode Island has cost too many lives. Well over 160 Rhode Islanders have died from accidental opioid overdoses so far this year. Hundreds more might have joined them had it not been for the rescue drug naloxone.
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About the series:
Hepatitis C infects an estimated five million Americans, though most of them don’t know it. But deaths from hepatitis C are on the rise in baby boomers. And throughout New England, new infections are creeping up among a younger generation. Less than a year ago, their only options for treatment were complicated regimens of injections that didn’t always lead to a cure. But brand new drugs could change everything. That is, if the cost doesn’t break us.

This series was produced by Kristin Gourlay, and edited by Catherine Welch, as a project for The California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships, a program of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

Support for health care reporting on Rhode Island Public Radio also comes from the Rhode Island Foundation, Rhode Island's only community foundation.

Jake Harper produced the infographics for "At the Crossroads."

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