Kentucky has the unfortunate distinction of having the highest rate of Hepatitis C in the nation. It is caused by a virus which today is principally transmitted by sharing contaminated needles and syringes and results in chronic liver disease in 80% of those infected. Half of those infected are unaware that they are positive for the virus but none-the-less can continue to spread it via contaminated needles, syringes, drug paraphernalia, razors and toothbrushes.
Baby boomers, those born between 1945 and 1965, are also high risk for the infection, and the CDC recommends that they be tested. At present there is no vaccine to prevent Hepatitis C and, although treatments exist, they are expensive (around $85,000). The best strategy is prevention by using sterile needles and syringes – every time. Lake Cumberland District Health Department can perform Hepatitis C testing for those who are uninsured.