Treating hepatitis C is an issue in prisons
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Hepatitis C is a virus that can be spread through sexual content or the sharing of needles. Like many viruses of its kind, such as HIV, hepatitis C is a major problem in the prison community. This is due not only to the fact that prisoners don't often engage in safer sex, but also because there is a rampant underground tattoo community.
Recently, the New York Times reported on some of the barriers to proper treatment for Texas prisoners with hepatitis C. According to the news source, this virus is a particularly large problem among incarcerated Texans. Prison health officials estimate that as many as 50,000 of the state's more than 150,000 inmates have hepatitis C. However, not all of these individuals have been diagnosed or are receiving treatment.
"Not all inmates are tested for hepatitis C when they enter the prison system. They are tested if they have other clinical indicators, like or a history of intravenous drug use. In a 2007 report, health providers for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said they had identified and were managing care for about 20,000 inmates with hepatitis C," according to the news source.
Furthermore, the cost of treating these individuals is rising. By next year, the amount of money spent on hepatitis C treatment for prisoners is expected to rise by 380 percent, due to higher rates of the virus.
The Hepatitis Prison Coalition works with the Hepatitis Education Project to offer counseling for people with chronic infections, including risk reduction and condom use information. Since this disease affects the liver, the groups also offer advice for how people can avoid further damaging this vital organ, such as limiting drug and alcohol use.
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