Hepatitis C in Corrections

post_PA_2014_sep_octIn the September/October issue of Positively Awaremagazine, Project Inform’s Andrew Reynolds reports on the current state of the hepatitis C epidemic in the US prison system.

“Social policy decisions can have far-reaching effects and unintended consequences. Rrther than taking a public health approach to address illicit drug sue, the US has chosen to deal with this issue by declaring a “war on drugs” beginning in the 1970s. In choosing to incarcerate drug users rather than provide drug treatment and other harm reduction interventions, arrest rates soared, and the US prison population exploded in the decades to follow. Today, the US has the largest population of incarcerated person in the world, with 2.3 million people in jail or prison on any given day.

Another consequence of the war on drugs is lack of access to drug treatment, methadone, maintenance, or needle exchange and other harm reduction services. As a result, the twin epidemics of hepatitis C (HCV) and mass incarceration have grown together hand-in-hand. The sharing of syringes and other injecting equipment are leading causes of HCV infection, accounting for at least 16,000 new infections per year (and likely much more), with a prevalence rate of up to 42% per year. Overall, nearly 56% of people living with chronic HCV have a history of injecting drugs. As HCV and injection drug use are so intimately related, and the war on drugs has led to the arrest of so many people who inject drugs, it follows that prisons and HCV are also deeply connected.”

To see the full article, read pages 35 to 37 of the September/October issue of Positively Aware.

 

this post reposted from project inform.. http://www.projectinform.org

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