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Think Out Loud

Oregon's High Hepatitis C Infection Rate And Why It Matters

A recent report (pdf) by the state’s health agency shows that Oregon’s rate of hepatitis C is 50 percent higher than the national average. Kim Toevs, who directs Multnomah County’s hepatitis C prevention program, says her biggest job is to get people who are at risk — or who may already have hepatitis C — to get tested. She estimates about half the people living with chronic hepatitis C don’t even know they have it.

Toevs says public health officials target three specific groups: those who got blood transfusions before 1992, when blood began to be universally screened for the virus; those born between 1945 and 1965; and intravenous drug users. She says the latter group has increased in numbers in Oregon as doctors have begun to reduce their pain medication prescriptions.


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