Most baby boomers have gotten used to having a lot of doctors appointments, complete with tests, preventative screenings, and blood work. While it’s not much fun to be continually poked and prodded, the CDC is recommending one additional screening for those born between 1945 and 1956 – a hepatitis C test.
Why A Hep C Test?
Even though both men and women of any age can be infected with hepatitis C, 3 of 4 people with hepatitis C were born during those baby boomer years and most don’t even know they are infected! So what do you need to know about hepatitis C? It is a liver disease that can lead to chronic infections, liver cancer, and is now the leading cause of liver transplants. Although some people who are infected never have symptoms, these potential health problems are too serious to ignore.
Although it’s unclear exactly why so many baby boomers have hepatitis C, the CDC assumes that many of them could have come in contact with the virus in the 1960s – 1980s, when transmission of the disease was the highest. Since it is most commonly spread through blood, the assumption is that it was heavily spread through contaminated medical equipment, procedures, and blood transfusions or other blood products, prior to strict screening procedures being put in place. There is also the possibility that the virus was spread through shared needles used to inject drugs, but that still does not explain the extremely high incidence of the hepatitis C in that age group.
What Should I Do?
Luckily for all of the baby boomers who may already be at their doctor’s office frequently, the test to detect hepatitis C is an easy one. It’s also important to be tested since hepatitis C carriers can be asymptomatic, meaning they are putting others at risk without even knowing it. The test is a simple blood test that detects the disease antibodies. If the test is positive, there are other tests that can be performed to determine whether you currently have the disease or if you had it in the past, fought it off, and still have the antibody. If you have concerns, make an appointment with one of the doctors at Associates In Digestive Health to be tested for hepatitis C. If you are positive, our doctors will work with you to determine the best treatment course.