Guess Which STD Now Kills More People Than AIDS

It’s Hepatitis C according to new data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention!

Hepatitis C’s deadliness comes in part from its asymptomatic nature. You can have it for years and not know until you experience cirrhosis, liver failure, liver cancer or varicose veins in your esophagus and gastric walls that can swell, burst and kill you—fun!

Plus if you have Hepatitis C and a drinking problem or HIV, then your chances of dying quadruple. If you have Hepatitis C and B, your chance of dying from liver failure goes up 30-fold.

So it’s no wonder that in 2007, health centers reported 15,000 Hep C-related deaths compared to 12,700 HIV-related deaths to the National Center for Health Statistics. Although there’s no vaccine against Hepatitis C, it’s easy enough to avoid it, so it makes one wonder why the cases of death have increased by such magnitude as to surpass death by AIDS.

Where’s Quincy MD when you need him?

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  • akn

    The non-profit I work for is about to do a big public awareness campaign on Hep C, and the target audience is hetero Baby Boomers who don’t think they need to get tested for STDs. But because Hep C is so much easier to transmit than HIV, there are 3 million Americans infected with Hep C who don’t know it… That would probably explain the accelerating rate of deaths related to the disease.

  • v

    The widespread trend of body piercings and tattoos may explain much of the increase.

    from the link in the article: “Whenever tattoos or body piercings are performed in informal settings or with nonsterile instruments, transmission of hepatitis C and other infectious diseases is possible.”

    I’ve seen more than a few “neighborhood” body mod shops that don’t meet the criteria of “sterile environment”.

  • Fitz

    To understand why a lot of people with HEP C are dying now, you have to understand the illness…. The people dying these days were probably infected in like 80-85.

  • dontturnaround

    Hepatitis C is actually rarely transmitted by sexual contact. Body piercings, sharing needles, and other non-sexual activities are way more likely to transmit the virus. To classify Hepatitis C as a sexually transmitted disease isn’t really correct.

  • Not my regular 'nym

    As someone with endstage liver disease (autoimmune disease, not transmitted sexually or otherwise) I’d encourage all readers to volunteer to be organ donors. In many states you can specify this when you get your drivers license but you also should inform your doctor and family.

    Livers are in extremely short supply; and need to be transplanted within hours of dying. Unlike kidneys, you only have one and in vast majority of cases there’s no possibility of transplant from a living person.

  • BigWoody

    Even though “sharing needles”, and blood transfusions (pre 1992) has been the predominant route of transmission, sexual transmission should not be downplayed. I was infected with what was then termed “non-A, non-B Hepatitis” over 20 years ago. I had never used intravenous drugs nor had I been given blood products. I have had many sexual encounters and have been lucky not to have contracted HIV, but I contracted HepC.

    There is no vaccine but there is treatment that is available. Interferon and Ribavirin
    treatment is expensive, is less than 50% effective with most Americans, and has some nasty side effects such as anemia, depression, and other undocumented issues. Treatment was successful in my case but I had to stop treatment toward the end of dosing regiment. Later, a couple of months after losing my job for what I thought was depression, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia brought on by a failed thyroid gland.

    @Fitz: Good point. New infections amounted to around 250,000 cases annually in the 1980’s and has dropped to around 35,000 today. Disease progression takes about 20 years until liver cirrhosis or cancer.

  • helen blower

    HepatitisC is a blood borne virus, not an STD, unless you involve in practices that transmit blood to blood, most of the transmissions to start with involved dirty surgical instruments , blood transfusions and blood products before 1991, of tatoo’s and piercings can infect, if again needles are not sterilised.

  • Dallas David

    Texas barber schools teach their students to do straight razor face shaving without disposable plastic gloves, or HBV vaccinations. Trying to talk to the state barber board about this (for the past 4 years) has been frustratingly unproductive. They’ve got photos of glove-less straight razor shaves in the textbooks, so it must be ok, eh?

    Plus the Texas barber board says it’s ok to share razor blades without sterilization. And the Texas Legislature passed a law (june 2011) allowing manicure & pedicure people to use an ultraviolet sanitizer (which aren’t tested or evaluated for anything) to reprocess blood-contaminated items instead of an FDA-listed autoclave. They were responding to businesses’ complaints of expense — autoclaves cost about $1000, and the UV sanitizers are only $40. Customer’s health? Not their problem.

    But, this is Texas, and that’s how things go here.

  • chpinnlr

    One common route of transmission for Hep C is through sharing straws during intranasal drug use! You rarely hear of the dangers of passing a straw when snorting drugs (even casusal drug users are at a high risk for transmission in this manner). The lining of the nasal passages tear easily and it takes a very small ammount of blood to pass this on in this manner.

  • chpinnlr

    @BigWoody: It’s important to find out what genome type of the disease a person has, that give a better indication of treatment effectiveness. Genome type 3 is much more responsive to interfron and ribavirin that genomes 1 & 2, but it is also a much more rare strain of the disease. It’s more common in asia, but becoming more prevalent in the US.

  • Jim Hlavac

    @edfu: If an HIV positive gay man does not have Hep C — he cannot pass it to someone else – for there is nothing to pass. If a Hep C person without HIV does the sex, he might pass it on — but he cannot pass on HIV for he doesn’t have it — Hep C and HIV have nothing to do with each other — you can have one or the other, or both — but only with both can the statement you made be true. But if a Hep C person without HIV has sex with another person then it may well be transmitted. You are confusing one issue with the other.

  • Fitz

    Whats important to understand about HIV WITH HepC is that the two diseases work together to make you die faster. It’s that simple. We don’t need to go into statistical analysis. HepC screws up your liver, HIV meds screw up your liver. Try not to get either.

  • Anna

    @Dallas David:
    Oh my god, that’s disgusting- how on earth can you sterilize anything properly in those settings without an autoclave?

  • Tyler

    @Jim Hlavac: edfu, the studies by fierer do a terrible job of demonstrating the incidence of HCV transmission, barely attempt to discern what kinds of “sex” lead to these infections, and draw overwhelmingly from drug addicts and anomalous sub-populations. Not the best source to make the claim that “HCV is transmitted between poz men”. Actually, the studies are pretty bad. A better source of info would be the growing body of anecdotes from poz guys that get it from regular anal sex. Any reasonably critical pozzie who wants to ignore the fierer studies can do so with ease. Ignoring your friends is much harder.

  • jason

    Hepatitis C doesn’t receive the publicity that AIDS does. That’s because AIDS has become flavor-of-the-day for liberals to use to express their faux sympathy for the gay rights cause. What they are really doing is using us gays to fight their culture wars against conservatives.

    Most liberals don’t give a rat’s ass about gay rights. Liberalism is based on the bisexual double standard. In this double standard, it is socially acceptable only for women to express a sexual interest in women and remain a part of the mainstream. If a man expresses sexual interest in a man, he is tolerated but only if he segregates himself away from the mainstream. This is why many gay men are so poorly integrated into the mainstream and spend much of their time socializing in the gay ghetto rather than the mainstream.

    Liberals – including female liberals – don’t like male-male sexuality. They are terrified of it. They only agree with female-female sexuality, especially if it’s designed to titillate sleazy straight male liberals (usually of the scrawny, metrosexual kind).

  • Mitch

    @jason: Wow, you actually turned the entire HIV epidemic, and its highly publicized response, into an attack on you. Way to be enormously selfish! Perhaps…just perhaps…HIV gets a lot of attention because it has KILLED MILLIONS OF PEOPLE IN GRUESOME, HORIFFIC WAYS, while the magnitude of HCV is just beginning to be understood? Naw, that can’t be the case. Lets blame female liberals for using you as a proxy in their culture war…or whatever. It couldn’t possibly be that the disease sucks WAY more than your childish inference of “discrimination”.

  • Riker

    @Mitch: Don’t bother, Jason is an AIDS denialist. He believes the completely debunked and discredited hypothesis that HIV is not the cause of AIDS.

  • Dallas David

    @Anna: Can’t sterilize anything without a sterilizer, and no business should even attept to reprocess blood-contaminated sharp (or anything) without a sterilizer that’s been tested and listed with the FDA.

    But Texas barber and cosmetology regulators (TDLR Commission) seem to think it’s “too expensive” for shops to pay for things like sinks to wash dirty hands in, so it’s no longer a requirement.

    Pretty much, it’s healthier and safer to just let your hair grow out, or cut your own.

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