Public health experts have a new warning about a potentially deadly virus on the rise in the Tri-State. They are so concerned that they are now even offering free testing for it.
When James Dryer sets up for tattooing at Asylum in Latonia, he makes sure his clients, such as Joe Daniels, get what they want. Daniels says, "I really like nature, I really like life and death, kinda the play between each. It is an art in that it is customed design, but at the same time as being expressive there's a medical side."
That medical side is about avoiding transmission of a virus transmitted through shared needles called Hepatitis C. Northern Kentucky Health Department Epidemiology Manager Joyce Rice says, "Hepatitis C is basically an infection of the liver. It's a virus that affects the liver. It can cause Cirrhosis, and in some cases, liver cancer."
They've just started launching free testing for Hep C after seeing a jump in the number of cases reported. In Ohio, it's up about 30 percent, and in northern Kentucky it's even worse. In fact, in the past two years, the number of people infected with this contagious liver disease has gone up 80 percent in the northern Kentucky area. Compared to the rest of the state, we have double the rates here in our area, and compared to the rest of the country, we have six times the rate.
Nobody is quite sure why it's up, but testing is recommended if you've had tattoos or piercings in un-sterile environments, for those who are IV drug users or if you've had a blood transfusion prior to 1992.
While Dryers practice of prevention is best, "Testing will let you know that you have it so you can get medical care, but it will also so you can take precautions so you don't spread it to other people."
The test for Hep C is a blood test. The CDC is now also suggesting testing for those ages 50 and older.