By H. Sooki Hon, MD, PhD
If you remember listening to music on your transistor radio, then this message is for you.
The Hepatitis C (Hep C) virus is a serious health concern for the baby boomer generation, but it isn’t talked about often. People born between 1945 and 1965 are five times more likely than any other age groups to have Hepatitis C. And now, approximately 1 in 30 baby boomers have it.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), many were infected during a time when infection control standards were not what they are today. As a result, three out of four people with Hep C are part of the baby boomer generation – and millions don’t even know they’re infected.
People can live with Hep C for years – even decades – and feel healthy with no symptoms, and it’s not tested for in routine bloodwork. This makes getting screened for the virus critical.
The CDC recommends all baby boomers get tested. With a simple, one-time blood test, people can know for sure whether they are infected and need to seek treatment.
Hep C is a contagious virus spread primarily through contact with the blood of an infected person. It causes liver inflammation and can range from a short-term illness to a chronic infection attacking the liver.
Approximately 75-85% of people who become infected with the virus develop a serious, lifelong illness. If left untreated, this infection can cause severe liver damage, including cirrhosis and liver cancer – even liver failure. Hep C is one of the leading causes of liver cancer, and the CDC reports that more deaths occur from it each year than from HIV or any other infectious disease.
For those who test positive, there is good news – we are living in a new era of treatment for Hep C. There are a variety of options, including new medications that can eradicate the virus in almost all patients. The physicians at Atlanta Gastroenterology Associates can help patients navigate the latest treatments and strategies.
Talk to your doctor and request getting tested for Hepatitis C.
People with Hepatitis C:
• Often have no symptoms
• Can live with the infection for decades without feeling sick
• Can be successfully treated with medications