Monday, February 20, 2012

Baby boomer injection use increases number of hepatitis related deaths

hepatitis-associated deaths increased dramatically in the past decade, exceeding the number of HIV-related deaths. Hepatitis C alone caused 13,000 deaths between 1999 and 2007, compared to 13,000 due to HIV. Just as significant as the related mortalities are the related morbidities - 1.4 million people are living with chronic hepatitis B and 3.2 with HCV.

One group particularly represented in the hepatitis-related mortality group is the baby boomer generation. This group is more susceptible to injection drug use, therefore at higher risk for hepatitis infection. It's estimated that 75% of all hepatitis related deaths can be attributed to this group. This group is also at high risk because the HBV vaccine was not developed while they were youths.

The article provided a fairly accurate background on the latency of hepatitis virus, how it's transmitted, and potential treatment using nucleoside analog. I was very surprised that Hepatitis caused more deaths than HIV since there seems to be so much attention concentrated on HIV research. Hopefully, with the development of HBV vaccine, we can reduce the number of hepatitis related deaths and move onto developing a vaccine for HIV!

-Michelle Jin
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