Nearly 2.4 million Americans are living with Hepatitis C , according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the finger of blame is being pointed at the opioid epidemic.
Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus commonly transmitted through blood. Most people show no symptoms or have mild symptoms like fatigue, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea or yellow discoloration of the eyes and skin.
Hepatitis C causes inflammation in the liver. In most cases, the infection becomes chronic. Without treatment, about 15 percent to 30 percent of people with chronic Hepatitis C will develop cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, according to the CDC. Some of those also develop liver cancer.
There is no vaccine for Hepatitis C but medications can cure most cases.
Even though new treatments are now available to cure a majority of the people with Hepatitis C , millions of Americans remain infected. The CDC says this may be because they don't know they are infected or they are unable to access treatment.
From 2010 to 2016, the number of hepatitis C cases more than tripled, mainly due to increased injection drug use related to the opioid crisis. In 2016 alone, there were more than 41,000 new infections.