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Baby Boomers & Hepatitis C the “Silent Epidemic”

The hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a disease that infects the liver and can cause permanent damage if not treated. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that baby boomers (people born between 1945 and 1965) are 5 times more likely to have hepatitis C than other generations. Since many people do not experience symptoms for years and are unaware that they are infected with HCV it is known as the “Silent Epidemic”.

Hepatitis C (HVC) is primarily spread through contact with blood from a person infected with the virus. It is theorized that baby boomers have higher rates of HCV due to possible exposure to the virus from medical equipment or medical procedures before universal precautions and infection control measures were widely incorporated. Those most likely to be infected are:

  •  Baby boomers (a person born between 1945 and 1965)
  •  People sharing needles for drug use or for tattoos and piercing
  •  Blood transfusion recipients before 1992
  •  People sharing razors or other personal items that may have blood on them
  •  Employees who work in an environment which exposes them to someone else’s blood
  •  A person born to a mother with HCV
  •  People infected with HIV 

The immune system of some people will fight the HCV infection and the virus goes away; this is known as acute HCV. Most people will develop chronic HCV that does not go away until treated with medication. Symptoms of HCV may be similar to symptoms of the flu (tiredness, muscle soreness, loss of appetite, and nausea); however jaundice (a yellowing of skin and eyes), dark-colored urine, pale bowel movements, and stomach pain may also occur.

It is recommended by the CDC that everyone born from1945–1965 get tested for hepatitis C (HCV). Doctors can diagnose HCV with blood screening tests and provide treatment before it causes serious health problems. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent liver damage. Without treatment, chronic HCV can cause chronic liver disease, cirrhosis, liver failure, or liver cancer.

Check out our Hepatitis C (HCV) HPAP !