How the Heroin Crisis Ushered in a Hepatitis C Epidemic

Meanwhile, high prices and stringent requirements from insurers and Big Pharma are limiting access to effective treatment.

The first thing Amy does after rising from the brink of death is apologize.

“I’m sorry,” she says, scanning the small crowd of first-responders who have formed a semi-circle around her. She rummages through her scalp with fingernails painted lime green. By a hair, she has missed becoming the city’s latest casualty of a heroin overdose.

It’s just past 2:30 p.m. on a broiling Tuesday afternoon, and Amy (whose name has been changed to protect her privacy) is lying in a small courtyard on the side of Wing Fook Funeral Home, a few blocks from Boston Medical Center. Earlier in the day she had purchased a $20 bag of heroin and snuck behind the fence and shrubs of the funeral home to a set of semi-private benches, where she shot up and overdosed. Boston Emergency Medical Services responded to the call in less than four minutes. Amy, who is 20, is the second overdose they have fielded since noon. Already, they’d treated a 28-year-old man who had collapsed on the men’s room floor at the East Boston Public Library. In about 25 minutes, they will respond to their third overdose of the day, a 35-year-old man they’ll find unconscious on the lawn of South Boston’s Moakley Park.

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