Intravenous Drug Use is Increasing in Hepatitis Patients

October 31, 2019
Kenny Walter

Kenny Walter is an editor with HCPLive. Prior to joining MJH Life Sciences in 2019, he worked as a digital reporter covering nanotechnology, life sciences, material science and more with R&D Magazine. He graduated with a degree in journalism from Temple University in 2008 and began his career as a local reporter for a chain of weekly newspapers based on the Jersey shore. When not working, he enjoys going to the beach and enjoying the shore in the summer and watching North Carolina Tar Heel basketball in the winter.

At the annual ACG meeting, Carlos Romero-Marrero, MD and Mohammad Alomari, MD discuss what can be done to reduce the drug use rate for high risk patients.

Intravenous drug use is rising, putting more and more patients at a risk of contradicting hepatitis C or B viral infections.

According to new data presented at American College of Gastroenterology’s Annual Scientific Meeting (ACG 2019), the incidence of drug use in hepatitis increased from 22.7% in 2002 to 30.6% in 2016.

In an interview with MD Magazine®, Mohammad Alomari, MD, a resident of the Cleveland Clinic and Carlos Romero-Marrero, MD, of gastroenterology, hepatology & nutrition at the Cleveland Clinic, explained what can be done to decrease this alarming trend.

MD Mag: On recommendations for decreasing the rate of intravenous drug use in patients at a risk for hepatitis.

Alomari: So that takes us to the recommendation that we need to take appropriate measures to prevent or at least minimize or ameliorate IV drug use in those high-risk patients.

A few suggestions would be to implement the needle exchange program, to try to do more education about the risks of IV drug use and the risk of contracting hepatitis B or C infections or even HIV.

Also, to make the clinicians more cognizant about this association and this alarming trend in IV drug use in those patients.

MD Mag: What is currently available for hepatitis patients seeking to stop using drugs?

Romero-Marrero: Another recommendation is as part of the rehabilitation process of the patient with IV drug use, there's programs that actually support the early treatment for hepatitis C and B. By doing that, eradicating the virus from these individuals, then if they return they don't infect other patients.