Hepatitis C Cases increase for the United States, but decrease for Alaska

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska - The Center for Disease Control revealed data showing a 21% increase in Hepatitis C infections nationwide from 2015 to 2016. However, according to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Alaska saw a decline in Hep C infections.
"In Alaska, and it seems to be across the board, but it looks like we actually have a decrease," said Executive Director of the Interior Aids Association, Anna Nelson.
During the same time frame as the CDC study, infections in the Interior decreased from 146 to 115.
Statewide, there was a decrease from 1240 to 1193. Because Hep C and drug use is connected, syringe exchange programs could be one factor explaining the decrease.
"We have a syringe exchange here in Fairbanks for almost 30 years, now, and Anchorage has a syringe exchange that is doing huge volume of syringes and doing an excellent job making sure people have clean syringes," said Nelson.
She also believes an increase in testing, now that the virus is treatable, could be playing a role regarding the amount of infections increasing overall for the United States. People are more willing to get tested, and therefore, the reported number of infections are rising.
Later on this month, the CDC will be releasing updated data for infectious diseases in 2017. Nelson hopes the numbers for Hepatitis C infections in Alaska will continue to decline.