More effort needed to prevent increase in Hepatitis C cases - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

More effort needed to prevent increase in Hepatitis C cases

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A number of Hepatitis C concerns at the local prison has many on edge. But is it or is it not an epidemic? According to the governor it is - and more must be done to prevent Hepatitis C cases from increasing in the community.

According to Governor Lou Leon Guerrero, there is an epidemic of Hepatitis C in the prison.  

"I think it's more than just monitoring the incidents of cases there's the prevention part again, the treatment part again. I'm sure public health has been working very closely with DOC to address that epidemic there," he said.   

But in an interview with DOC Director Samantha Brennan, not more could be disclosed as to the extent of the issue.

Asked if she could quantify the number of Hepatitis C cases, she replied, "I just have no comment, and I don't want to elaborate more we put out the press release and that's the end of that."

Dr. Larry Lizama told KUAM there were over 100 cases of Hep C at DOC, but Director Brennan published a statement saying it was "not an epidemic".

"I have no comment to that," said Brennan.

Public Health officials explain the situation to the Governor, noting, "We do provide antibody tests kits to the DOC program 10 and last year that's when we started it in June." Leon Guerrero inquired if more cases are being seen by the agency on the island, to which the representative said, "I think we need to understand the true numbers."

The health department was unclear of how many cases plague the island.

Though no word yet on how the prison plans to address the $6 million-$8 million in costs that Dr. Lizama says is needed to treat inmates, for now, the Governor says more must be done to prevent Hepatitis C in the community.

"Of course, Hepatitis C is a result of using needles, drug addiction, so what we can we do to help mitigate that risk, or maybe we have to give free syringes out there. You know, they do that in other states, and that's just to contain the infectious part of the disease," said the governor.

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