Boomer Alert: CDC Recommends Hepatitis C Screenings
The number of Americans dying from Hepatitis C related diseases nearly doubled from 1999 to 2007. And one in 30 baby boomers have been infected and might not even know it. These statistics come to us from the CDC who is now urging that baby boomers get tested for Hepatitis C. Baby boomers are defined as those born between 1945 and 1965.
It is possible that people were infected by blood transfusions, tattoos, piercing, shared razors, toothbrushes, even manicures. Of course other means of infection with Hepatitis C are sharing drug needles and sexual contact. This blood-borne virus can cause liver damage and it may take years for symptoms to appear. In addition to liver damage, Hepatitis C is linked to liver disease and liver cancer. The CDC estimates that more than 15,000 Americans die each year from Hepatitis C related illnesses.
Screening for Hepatitis C used to just be recommended for those at risk, like drug users. According to CDC, risk-based screening will continue, but is not sufficient alone.¬† More than 2 million U.S. baby boomers are infected with hepatitis C ‚Äì accounting for more than 75 percent of all American adults living with the virus.¬† Studies show that many baby boomers could have been infected with the virus decades ago, did not perceive themselves to be at risk, and have never been screened.
The CDC estimates one-time Hepatitis C testing of baby boomers could identify more than 800,000 additional people with hepatitis C.¬† And with newly available therapies that can cure up to 75 percent of infections, expanded testing ‚Äì along with linkage to appropriate care and treatment ‚Äì would prevent the costly consequences of liver cancer and other chronic liver diseases and save more than 120,000 lives.
The CDC states that without some intervention the statistics will only get worse and the number of infected and the number of deaths will continue to rise. Another reason the CDC is recommending testing now for baby boomers is that there are two new drugs on the market. Treatment for Hepatitis can vary and after receiving results patients should consult with a physician to decide the best treatment plan for them.
More information about Hepatitis C is available at http://www.cdc.gov/knowmorehepatitis/