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CDC Recommends Hepatitis C Test For Baby Boomers

Aug 22nd, 2012

hepatitis cStudies suggest that more than 2 million Americans born between 1945 and 1965 may be living with hepatitis C, prompting U.S. health officials to recommend testing for the blood-borne virus.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hepatitis C claims more than 15,000 American lives every year. Most of these deaths are from illnesses like cirrhosis and liver cancer.

“Everyone age 47 to 67 who hasn’t already been tested for hepatitis C should be tested once,” said CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden. “The sooner you know the more you can protect your liver and your life.”

The recommendation came from studies showing that many baby boomers might have been infected several years ago because previous guidelines did not include routine screening of donated blood or organs and there was very little awareness of the risk from sharing needles.

Previously, the CDC only recommended testing for people with known risk factors for the virus. The agency estimates that there are about 3.2 million Americans with chronic hepatitis C infection.

“Hepatitis C is particularly dangerous because it is a silent killer. It can live for decades in a person’s body, slowly destroying the liver, while causing few symptoms,” said Dr. John Ward, CDC director for viral hepatitis division.

Testing can potentially identify more than 800,000 cases of hepatitis C infection; prevent 50,000 cases of liver cancer and 100,000 cases of cirrhosis; and save more than 120,000 lives. In the U.S., the virus is the number one cause of liver transplants.

The blood test is such a small price to pay for such a big benefit in the future, according to Dr. Ward.

According to the CDC, the blood tests will help prevent the effects of the disease; with recent developments in therapies, 75 percent of infections can now be cured.

Source: Vista Health Solutions News Room

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