Is It Immoral to Deny Prisoners Hepatitis C Treatment Because of The Cost?
Date:  04-01-2014

New, highly expensive medications can wipe out the virus, but can prison budgets afford to pay for them?
Hepatitis C is hitting baby boomers hard. Many people of that generation have the virus, but unless they are tested they might not find out until it is too late. The disease can be contracted by unscreened blood and blood products used in transfusions and hemodialysis, and by unsterile tattoo needles or body piercing equipment. It also is transmitted by sharing contaminated needles among IV drug users. Organizations such as AARP are advising those over 50 to be tested because it wasn’t until 1989 that the virus was discovered. In 1990 blood was first screened for the Hep C virus, and not until two years later that the screenings were widely used and the tainted blood was discarded. But older people aren’t the only ones that may be carrying the potentially fatal virus. Hep C is surging through America’s jails and prisons. The Center for Disease Control concludes:

  • Hepatitis C can be a health problem for people who have been incarcerated.

  • Adults in correctional facilities are at risk for Hepatitis C because many people in jails or prisons already have Hepatitis C.

  • The most common way inmates get Hepatitis C is by sharing equipment used for injecting drugs, tattooing, and piercing with other people who are already infected.

  • The Hepatitis C virus can be spread easily to others through blood, even in very small amounts too small to see. Hepatitis C.

    The disease can cause cirrhosis, and liver cancer, but now two new drugs are on the market that can wipe out the virus from the body. That news has given those with Hep C new hope, and that includes prisoners. But the idea of providing the new antiviral drugs to prisoners is causing controversy. Corrections budgets are already at the breaking point and that one course of treatment for an inmate starts at $65,000. But some say that not treating an inmate because of the cost is immoral.

    Read more about the disease and the ensuing controversy in more by clicking on the link below.
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