An opioid epidemic in Virginia may be the beginning of other alarming health concerns, such as a rise in hepatitis C and HIV cases, according to state officials.
Earlier this month, state health commissioner Dr. Marissa Levine warned state officials that the two diseases will eventually “rear their ugly heads” with continued opioid use, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.
Both diseases are bloodborne – thus, sharing a needle can easily spread the diseases from person to person. Experts say hepatitis C is more easily spread through injection than HIV, which is also transmitted sexually.
“We’re thinking of a whole concept of harm reduction, which includes needle-exchange programs which currently in Virginia are illegal, but [that] many of our surrounding states have already authorized through legislation, and I think it’s something that our legislature needs to consider,” Levine said.