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The CDC Asks Baby Boomers to Get Tested for Hepatitis C

The Baby Boomers, a generation which will be remembered for rock ‘n’ roll, free love, and the hippie movement, may now be remembered for one more thing, hepatitis C. As you may have already heard, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has officially recommended that anyone who was born between 1945 and 1965 should go and get tested for HCV, especially if they have never been tested before.

Accounting for Nearly 75% of all Cases of HCV!!

Medical researchers studying hepatitis C estimate that there are between 2.7 to 3.9 million Americans who are currently living with this potentially lethal virus. According to the CDC’s own estimates, the baby boomer generation accounts for nearly 75% of those who are infected with HCV! Their research teams have reported that people born in that time frame are five times more likely to test positive for HCV than adults who were born before 1945 or after 1965. Breaking this down further shows that men are twice as likely to be infected as women, and African American males are far more likely to have the virus than Caucasian or Mexican-American males.

Representatives from the CDC have stated that they don’t expect every baby boomer to go and get tested immediately. However, this is not something that they want to avoid doing for the next few years either. The sooner they visit their primary health care provider, the more lives they’ll be able to protect.

The Hidden Infection

Clinical studies on hepatitis C have shown that more than half of all the people who are infected with HCV in the U.S. are not even aware that they are carrying this disease. This presents a serious issue for medical officials who are trying to prevent potential hepatitis C outbreaks. People who get infected tend not to recollect how they could have come into contact with the virus, and this is exactly why the CDC feels like it is necessary to test everyone who is a part of the baby boomer generation.

Another area of concern is that the hepatitis C virus, unlike other viruses, is capable of surviving outside of the body for up to a week. This means that people can easily be infected through sharing such things as a razor, needle, toothbrush, or even a straw that has been used to snort drugs. In some rare cases, pregnant mothers would pass on the infection to their babies during birth. Other hepatitis C risks include numerous sexual partners and unsterilized tattoo needles.

The CDC Chooses the Baby Boomer Generation

Over the last several years, the CDC actually evaluated several different generations, and they concluded that the most cost-effective method for detecting these undiagnosed hepatitis C cases would be a universal testing of the baby boomer generation. Scientists have further predicted that in the absence of hepatitis C treatments, more than 2 million Americans will develop cirrhosis over the next half century.  This and other HCV-related complications will result in the deaths of nearly 1 million people.

New Treatments for Hepatitis C

Up until just last year, hepatitis C patients were primarily treated with two drugs; ribavirin and alpha-interferon, which often produced serious side effects and did not actually attack the virus directly. Then later in 2011, the FDA approved two new hepatitis C treatments. These protease inhibitors worked by directly attacking HCV, and within a short amount of time, the medical community witnessed an increase in the number of cured cases. Since then, research teams have been reporting even more impressive results from ongoing hep C clinical trials which are running tests on 20 other direct-acting antivirals. Looking forward, medical researchers are confident that curing this infectious disease will soon become routine. However, people will still need to know that they are infected before they can receive this treatment.

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