Hepatitis C Symptoms
February 21, 2012 by staff
Hepatitis C Symptoms, Deaths from liver-destroying hepatitis C are on the rise, and new data shows baby boomers especially should take heed — they are most at risk.
Federal health officials are considering whether anyone born between 1945 and 1965 should get a one-time blood test to check if their livers harbor this ticking time bomb. The reason: Two-thirds of people with hepatitis C are in this age group, most unaware that a virus that takes a few decades to do its damage has festered since their younger days.
The issue has taken new urgency since two drugs hit the market last summer that promise to cure many more people than ever was possible. And research published Monday says testing millions of the middle-aged to find those who need the pricey treatment would be worth the cost, saving thousands of lives.
“One of every 33 baby boomers are living with hepatitis C infection,” says Dr. John Ward, hepatitis chief at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Most people will be surprised, because it’s a silent epidemic.”
Don’t think you need to worry? Yes, sharing a needle while injecting illegal drugs is the biggest risk factor for becoming infected with this blood-borne virus. But before 1992, when widespread testing of the blood supply began, hepatitis C commonly was spread through blood transfusions. Plus, a one-time experiment with drugs way back in high school or college could have been enough.
“Asking someone about a risk that happened 20 to 30 years ago is a lot to ask,” says Ward. Hence the quest for a new strategy.
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