Hawaii is more affected by the hepatitis epidemic than other states

Hepatitis C virus can be cured. Hepatitis B can be managed. Given that both are avoidable, why are the rates of it so high in one U.S. state?

Were you aware that Hawaii has a greater mortality rate from liver cancer than the contiguous United States as a result of hepatitis B and C?

According to Thaddeus Pham, the viral hepatitis prevention coordinator for the Hawaii Department of Health, “when we look at hepatitis B, and hepatitis C specifically, we also see higher death rates of both of those compared to the continental U.S.” “Hepatitis C patients in Hawaii have a 20-year early death rate compared to those living in other parts of the state.”

Yes, it is correct. The difference in life expectancy between people with the curable hepatitis C and those without it is twenty years.

As part of the HepFree by 2030 initiative, Pham and the DOH are currently building a surveillance infrastructure that will monitor the spread of viral hepatitis and perhaps start to identify specifics about who is getting hepatitis and how.

Now, try not to be alarmed by the word surveillance. It’s not what you may assume. With the use of this technology, the DOH will be able to assist those who have contracted viral hepatitis in finding resources for care and in creating preventative plans.

Hepatitis comes in three different forms.

Hepatitis A

When a person comes into contact with infectious feces in their mouth, they can get hepatitis A. This has been observed with foods that have acted as a medium for the transmission of hepatitis. The United States frequently imports these foods.

A vaccine can prevent it, but some people will naturally become immune to it. It’s crucial to identify the source, though, if you do get it from tainted food. This is one of the applications for the surveillance system that Pham is developing.

Hepatitis B

Similar to HIV, hepatitis B is spread through similar means. Thus, from mother to kid, via intercourse, or by coming into contact with tainted blood. Hepatitis B cannot be cured. According to Pham, it is manageable with straightforward, secure medication.

Thus, in order to prevent the virus from spreading, you will need to take medication if you have chronic hepatitis B. However, you’ll always possess it. Nonetheless, vaccinations can shield you from contracting an infection.

Hepatitis C

Blood to blood transmission occurs for hepatitis C. This is typically the type of hepatitis that results from sharing needles or other drug paraphernalia. Hepatitis C can be cured with a quick, safe course of therapy, but there is no immunity or vaccination.

The figures

Pham gave KHON2.com some data regarding the hepatitis epidemic’s effects in Hawaii. He emphasized that a lot more might be learned from data collection and observation because the surveillance system is still in the early stages of development.

DOH report on hepatitis B mortality rates.

  • Hawaii’s rates from 2000 to 2020 are greater than the US.
  • In 2019 Hawaii’s rate was three times greater than the US.
  • Asian and Pacific Islander residents in Hawaii have higher rates (1.2 to 1.4 times) than the state average.
  • DOH report on fatality rates from liver cancer.

Hawaii’s rates from 2000 to 2020 are greater than the US.

  • Hawaii’s rates went up from 7.96 per 100,000 to 9.41 per 100,000 between 2000 and 2020.
  • rates influenced in part by differences in the population of Asian and Pacific Island countries.
  • Note: According to a journal publication, HBV and HCV are the main causes of liver cancer in Hawaii.

Journal paper and CDC data on HCV death rates.

  • Compared to the rest of the state, HCV is linked to a life expectancy that is up to 20 years shorter.
  • Hawaii has the greatest percentage of NHAPI deaths among deaths that are listed on the HCV (2016–17).

The reason syringe exchanges are so crucial for prevention is the spread of hepatitis C. For materials and information, go to HepFree2030.

According to Pham, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise all adults to get tested for both hepatitis B and C at least once, regardless of their perceived risk.