CDC reports a "silent epidemic" of hepatitis C among baby boomers
According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated one in 33 baby boomers has hepatitis C, which amounts to about two-thirds of the total number of people with the virus. Moreover, it's believed that most of these individuals have not been diagnosed.
"One of every 33 baby boomers are living with hepatitis C infection," said John Ward, M.D., hepatitis chief at the CDC, quoted by the news source. "Most people will be surprised, because it's a silent epidemic."
Factors that contribute to infection among baby boomers include intravenous drug use - even that which may have occurred decades ago – as well as blood transfusions, since donations were not required to be tested for the virus prior to 1992.
"Asking someone about a risk that happened 20 to 30 years ago is a lot to ask," said Ward, quoted by Yahoo! News.
The need for testing is particularly important now, as rates of death from hepatitis C are on the rise and treatments for the infection are more effective when the condition is detected early.
The National Institutes of Health reports that it's common for hepatitis C to be asymptomatic, and that just 10 percent of individuals with the virus will experience worsening jaundice. Other symptoms of hepatitis C include abdominal pain, swelling in the stomach, bleeding in the esophagus or stomach, dark colored urine, fatigue, fever, itching, loss of appetite, nausea, pale stool and vomiting.