A Hepatitis C Lesson Inspired by Ice Cube

I have a serious obsession with infectious diseases and constantly search for references everywhere. My latest find: the movie Ride Along. This comedy is about a police officer (played by Ice Cube, who I once saw in concert) and an aspiring police officer (played by Kevin Hart). The infectious disease reference occurs in a scene in which the police officer questions the neophyte's resolve asking him how he would react if he were stuck with a hepatitis C needle. 

Hepatitis C is and injection drug use are indelibly linked: 90% of new infections are due to this risk factor. Needle exchange programs are the cornerstone of hepatitis C prevention and it is unfortunate, that despite the unequivocal evidence that supports them, political opposition exists. In Pittsburgh, we are luck to have an organization called Prevention Point Pittsburgh, whose board I serve on, that provides needle exchange and disposal services. Pennsylvania also allows needles to be sold without a prescription, another key component to hepatitis C prevention. 

Clean needles lead to a lowering of hepatitis C incidence and prevalence. This translates into a lower chance that a discarded needle will be contaminated with hepatitis C. 

Until a vaccine is developed for hepatitis C clean materials with which to inject drugs, coupled with extensive testing, are the primary means of prevention.