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Bleach May Guard Against Hepatitis C

Study finds it can reduce risk of infection among injection drug users

FRIDAY, Nov. 22, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- Injection drug users who consistently use bleach to disinfect their needles may reduce their risk of hepatitis C infection.

So says an American study in the November issue of Epidemiology.

The study, led by two New York Academy of Medicine researchers, found the chance of becoming infected with hepatitis C was 65 percent less in injection drug users who used bleach all the time to disinfect their needles and 24 percent less in those who used bleach some of the time.

The study compared data on 78 injection drug users who became infected with hepatitis C over a two-year period to data for 390 others who didn't get infected. The researchers analyzed those cases to determine if bleach disinfection played a protective role in the cases of the people who avoided infection.

Hepatitis C is a major health problem among injection drug users. Using new, sterile needles or stopping drug use are two ways to combat infection. However, new, young injection drug users are the population group at greatest risk for hepatitis C infection, because they are often unable or unwilling to stop drug use and sterile needles are often not available.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about the health risks of injection drug use.

SOURCE: New York Academy of Medicine, news release, November 2002
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