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In Knoxville, TN, Hep C Affects up to 10% of the Population

What Makes Knoxville Different?

The state of Tennessee decided to include hepatitis C testing as a standard testing process when a patient receives other tests, including those for general health and wellness. Currently, it is unknown whether the 10X average rate of hepatitis C in the city of Knoxville means that this specific city has a higher population of people with the virus than anywhere else in the United States or if this is simply an indication that Knoxville is more aware of the actual numbers of infected citizens much more than other cities are. This will become clear over time, if other cities also decide to include testing for their residents on a regular basis, which is more likely to result in more accurate records of illnesses within the city limits than in cities where testing does not occur. It is estimated that only 5% of people with viral hepatitis in the world know that they have this virus, making it more likely that Knoxville has created a system to provide information to their residents more than other cities have than that Knoxville randomly has more cases of people testing positive for the virus than other cities.

What Can Be Done in Knoxville?

Since Knoxville has chosen to create a testing program that provides insight into the needs of their community members, the city can continue to encourage residents to become aware of their hepatitis C status by providing free or low cost testing facilities in convenient locations and by providing education to their community. This education may be multi-faceted; there can be details provided for those who have never been tested on where to go and what the testing process entails, there may be specifics provided for those who test positive so that they have the factual information needed to know how to proceed to the treatment stage and how to keep from potentially exposing anyone else to their virus. In addition, education is needed to let the general public know what the virus is, how it is spread, and how it can be treated and cured. This can help prevent misinformation, panic, or stigma from impacting the community. Next, Knoxville may be able to work with neighboring cities and towns to expand the testing and treatment programs so that the goal of eradicating hepatitis C can occur outside of the city’s jurisdiction and this can become a stepping stone to ending hepatitis C in the entire state of Tennessee. In addition, city officials may decide to reach out to drug companies to try to broker a discounted rate for treatment options to help make sure that residents at all income levels can afford treatment as quickly as possible. Lastly, city officials may choose to find additional funding for drug addiction treatment facilities and/or create and maintain a clean needle exchange program so that those wishing to end their IV drug addiction and those who want to reduce their chances of exposure while they continue to use can be cared for in a way that minimizes their risks.

How Can Other Cities Prevent This Situation?

Currently, it is unknown whether Knoxville has a higher rate of exposure or if their citizens are simply more aware of their statuses. Other cities can begin to include hepatitis C testing with their regular medical protocols too, which can help to make sure that more residents are aware of their hepatitis C status. This knowledge is the first step in treatment and in being cured, which ultimately lowers a city’s numbers of infection. Education is also key, both in providing training and education to those who interact with blood so that their facilities are kept clean and their employees and clients are kept from risk and so that people who have never heard of hepatitis C know how and where to be tested and what to do if their tests come back positive.1-3

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Hepatitis C - TN.Gov. (2017). Retrieved 30 March 2017, from
  2. Hepatitis C Screening and Diagnosis. (2017). Retrieved 30 March 2017, from
  3. KCHD gets first snapshot of local Hepatitis C rates - The Knoxville Focus. (2017). Retrieved 30 March 2017, from