AUSTIN (KXAN) — One recovering addict is hoping the Austin advocates handing out the Narcan at the Austin City Limit Music Festival will ask one important question, “have you been tested for hepatitis C?”
Devin Lyall is stressing the importance of hepatitis testing after contracting the disease.
“I encourage anyone who’s providing services to individuals seeking recovery, or people who use drugs to encourage testing for every single person that walks through the door,” Lyall said.
“I became addicted to opioids after an ankle surgery where I was prescribed opioids for pain. And I ended up eventually — due to forming the disease of addiction — becoming an IV drug user.”
Lyall is now the founder of a nationally recognized drug recovery group and said she has been cured of the disease thanks to treatment.
“Hepatitis C is number one, known as a silent disease. Many times people don’t have symptoms and too much later on when complications arise, things such as liver disease, liver cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, and sometimes death. It is blood borne,” said Dr. Ada Stewart, past board chair of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).
The CDC found new hepatitis C virus infections are almost 4 times as high as they were a decade ago. It estimates more than 2 million people in the United States have hepatitis C with approximately 4 in 10 people not knowing they have it.
For Lyall, part of combating the problem is encouraging testing and providing harm reduction services, “Naloxone, wound care, and a multitude of different things that can help reduce the transmission of hepatitis C.”