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Hepatitis C blood tests recommended for Baby Boomers

May 4, 2017

Baby Boomers have a lot to worry about as they approach their golden years, but one thing that may not have hit their radar screens is that they should be tested for hepatitis C.

A recent advisory from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that anyone born between 1945 and 1965 should be tested for hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C is a liver disease that results from infection with the hepatitis C virus. According to the CDC, baby boomers are five times more likely to have hepatitis C than other adults. Left unchecked, hepatitis C can lead to liver damage, cirrhosis and liver cancer.

For reasons not completely understood, three in four people who have hepatitis C were born from 1945 to 1965. According to the CDC, most boomers are believed to have been infected in the 1960s through the 1980s when transmission of hepatitis C was highest.

Hepatitis C primarily is spread through contact with blood of the infected person. It is thought that boomers are more vulnerable because they could have been infected from medical equipment or procedures before universal precautions and infection control procedures were adopted.

It is also possible, according to the CDC, that others could have gotten infected from contaminated blood and blood products before widespread screening virtually eliminated the virus from the blood supply by 1992.

According to Rebecca Glista, infection preventionist at Alliance Community Hospital, area baby boomers should contact their primary care physicians and request the hepatitis C blood test per the recommendation from the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force.

"The hepatitis C antibody test is a simple blood test that can tell if a person has ever been infected with the hepatitis C virus," Glista said. "As the CDC has pointed out, baby boomers are most vulnerable and while a lot of publicity is out there about flu shots and various vaccines, this notice from the CDC should be taken seriously."

The CDC warns that over time, chronic hepatitis C can cause serious health problems including liver cancer but they add that when detected early, treatments are now available to counter hepatitis C.

For more information, talk to a health professional, call the local health department or visit www.cdc.gov/knowmorehepatitis.

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