CDC Suggests Hepatitis C Testing For Baby Boomers

Baby boomers should be tested for hepatitis C because of the inherent risk factors of the disease.

Hepatitis C can damage the liver, often without being symptomatic.

The virus is the leading cause of liver cancer and liver transplants and potentially 800,000 people do not know that they have it.

And a recent analysis by the CDC found that more people in the U.S. die from hepatitis C than HIV/AIDS.

The current guidelines call for testing when someone has known risk factors.

Such as? Blood transfusions or organ transplants before 1992 (when effective screening for hepatitis C virus became common), or recreational injection of drugs — even once — could have led to a liver infection that has gone undetected all these years.

just being a baby boomer is risk factor enough, the CDC has concluded. “Baby boomers are five times more likely than other American adults to be infected with the disease,” the CDC says. “In fact, more than 75 percent of American adults with hepatitis C are baby boomers.” Infection rates were highest in the ’70s and ’80s.

Hepatitis C is highly treatable so being tested is important.

Hepatitis C Increasing Among Young People

Hepatitis C on the increase in people ages 15-34.

High risk behaviors such as IV drug use is fueling the increase while tattooing and sexual activity continue to spread the disease.

To assess the incidence of hepatitis C, the researchers reviewed Pennsylvania’s hepatitis C surveillance data from 2003 (the first full year of reportable data) to 2010. They compared age-specific rates of reported cases over time.

The number of newly confirmed or probable hepatitis C cases in people 15 to 34 years of age increased from 1384 in 2003 to 2393 in 2010 (from 43 to 72 cases per 100,000 people).

There Is A Risk Of Hepatitis C From Amateur Tattoos

Risk of hepatitis C from amateur tattoos is a real concern.

There are between 75 percent and 85 percent of people infected with hepatitis C who develop chronic infection, which can eventually cause serious liver diseases like cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) and liver cancer.

There are an estimated 3.2 million Americans who have chronic hepatitis C, about half of whom are unaware of it. (The initial infection most often causes no symptoms.)

Hepatitis C is passed through contact with infected blood. In the U.S., there are roughly 18,000 new infections each year, most of which occur when people who inject heroin and similar drugs share tainted needles or syringes.

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