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CDC Says Test All Baby Boomers for HepC

Posted May 21 2012 3:00am
Did you know that this past Saturday was the first ever National Hepatitis Testing Day?  Yeah, I missed that memo, too.  Hepatitis is another one of those silent killers that we're finding out more about each day.  More specifically, hepatitis A is the food-borne virus that you might hear about in the news.   Hepatitis B (HepB or HBV) is the virus spread by sex, needles & blood but luckily, we now have a vaccine to protect against it .

But it's hepatitis C (HepC or HCV) that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is really worried about since we do not have a  vaccine against HepC.  Worse, one in thirty Baby Boomers born from 1945 to 1965 has been infected and doesn't know it (yet).  In fact, our generation accounts for 3 out of 4 of those infected by HepC.  

The good news is that we're typically asymptomatic as we don't know that we're infected because we feel just fine.  The bad news is that we're symptom-free until it's too late and we have cirrhosis or liver cancer.  Back to some good news if you have HepC:  we now have some options for you, such as telaprevir and boceprevir .  But you won't know to start the regimen unless you get tested first.  
Many Baby Boomers don't consider themselves at high risk and therefore will not get tested until it's too late.  Which is why the CDC has now changed their tune and is now recommending that all Baby Boomers get tested at least once for HepC.  All high risk patients should get tested, too, such as Asian Pacific Islanders and injection drug users, both of whom are also at greater risk for HepB.  So tell your family & friends in this generation (and all those at high risk) to get tested regardless of their perceived risk.  The life they save may be their own.  By the way, there's no need to wait until next year.  Just tell your family physician you want to get checked out.

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