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SPOTLIGHT LOCAL, STATE, & NATIONAL PARTNERS’ RESPONSES TO INFECTIOUS DISEASE CONSEQUENCES OF OPIOID EPIDEMIC

It is widely known that the opioid epidemic gripping the nation has led to alarming increases in opioid use disorders, injection drug use, and overdose deaths. What has not been well understood or adequately addressed is the reality that, as rates of injection drug use have risen, so too have the risks for and rates of infectious diseases such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV, and endocarditis. According to the recent analysis from CDC, rates of opioid injection have increased and are driving increases in new hepatitis C infections which increased dramatically among younger Americans ages 18 – 29 and 30-39 (400% and 325%, respectively) from 2004 – 2014. Maternal hepatitis C infections also increased, exposing more infants to hepatitis C. These infectious diseases are life-threatening, contribute to rapidly rising health care costs, and add to the growing impact of the opioid epidemic in every state.