The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that baby boomers get screened for the Hepatitis C viral infection.
Adults born between 1945 and 1965 should receive a one-time test for the Hepatitis C virus, the task force says. Baby boomers account for three out of four people with hepatitis C, according to the group.
Researchers have discovered in the past few years that hepatitis C infections are higher in this demographic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also reported a near doubling of hepatitis C deaths since the late 1990s, and independently urged baby boomers to receive one-time screenings.
Because hepatitis C doesn’t show symptoms until liver damage becomes noticeable, up to 75 percent of infected individuals are unaware that they have the virus, according to the CDC.
Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus, so the risk of transmission is primarily associated with exposures to contaminated blood. Past or current injection-drug users and persons with hemophilia are at the greatest risk for hepatitis C, but those who have received a blood transfusion or received a tattoo also have higher prevalence rates, according to the CDC.
Hepatitis C can cause liver abnormalities like cirrhosis or liver cancer. Available therapies – including antiviral medications and liver transplants – can help deal with these abnormalities, can reduce the risk of liver cancer by 70 percent and reduce risk of mortality by half, according to the CDC.
Numerous one-time testing facilities provide baby boomers and other high-risk people the opportunity to get tested for the virus. The CDC and U.S. Preventive Services Task Force hope that catching the disease early will reduce the number of virus-related mortalities among baby boomers.