The current opioid crisis has proven devastating to users, families and entire communities. It's also given rise to acute cases of Hepatitis C, a potentially deadly infection whose rate of occurrence has nearly doubled in the United States since 2010. Hepatitis Country investigates this troubling epidemic, and traces its origins to a meteoric rise in intravenous drug use.
The film is set in West Virginia where the infection rate is five times higher than any other state in the U.S. For far too many residents in these Bible Belt communities, heroin and other opioids have offered an escape from the stark realities of economic stagnation and crippled morale. The film introduces us to several of these ravaged figures. They're good people who are helpless in the face of their addiction, and their lack of financial means make them particularly vulnerable to death and disease.
They often don't have access to proper treatment, and their dilemma is further complicated by an absence of educational resources. Hepatitis C is an insidious beast. Most drug users aren't even aware that they've been infected until they've spread it to many others through the sharing of needles.
Throughout the film, the testimonies we hear from users are nothing short of harrowing. High school students inject themselves while on campus. Couples resort to crooked needles in desperation for their next fix. One user claims he can only count on one hand the number of people he knows who don't have Hepatitis C.
Local health departments work within the community to provide information on the infection, and they distribute clean needles in an attempt to curb its spread. While these needle exchange programs might be controversial among some segments of the community, health workers assert that their success is undeniable. Still, given the stigma attached to drug use and addiction in the U.S., funding remains scarce for the continuation of these programs. A new generation of drugs has proven successful in reversing the threats of the infection, but their prices are being driven to untenable levels by the greed of the pharmaceutical industry.
At times, the scenes depicted in Hepatitis Country resemble those you would find in the most grotesque horror films. But this is real life, and the epidemic portrayed in the film is obliterating far too many communities of promise. The film contends that true change is only possible from a foundation of renewed compassion.
Please stop the propaganda. More people die from tylenol every year than opiodes
It's just fuel to drug use. But I do agree. Needle exchange points have decreased the spreading of HIV. It's not okay to spread needles because you never know what anyone have that could hurt or kill you by any risk. People need to think more of their health before making decisions like that.
Surely, as well as needle exchange a drug rehab program should also be offered...granted funds are low.
These programs (needle exchange) are one of the most important gateways for people who inject to avoid catching diseases spread by blood and contaminated equipment. I live in Scandinavia and have read up of a study revealing that needle exchange points have decreased the spreading of HIV by up to 90% in my area.
This work is really, really important and the key is to reach users before they make the mistake of sharing needles. I have seen and had friends who have rather shared used needles than visited a pharmacist to buy new ones out of fear or shame. But not anymore - they are dead now.
People with Mark Gaboury's attitude are akin to those that believe needles spread Diabetes.
I agree, needle exchange programs ARE NOT fuel for drug use - they are a lifesaver because they not only stop the spread of diseases but the needle exchange centers serve as a first link to access to treatment that so many addicts need. God help the world stop falling for Conservative group-think that only demonizes people who use drugs or have drug addictions.
Needles do not legitimize nor fuel drug use. There isn't an addict in the world that has ever said "Man, I don't have a clean needle. I guess I just won't get high today."
They're going to shoot up no matter what. At least clean needles keep them from spreading hepatitis and HIV.
You are allowing your personal bias to get in the way of your reason.
This is just a commercial for needle exchange programs. These programs legitimize drug use, and should be opposed. More harm is done in the long run by these programs. It's just fuel to drug use.