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Intravenous Drug Use is Increasing in Hepatitis Patients

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.