Due to a number of risk factors, including intravenous drug use and limited testing of the blood supply before 1992, those born from 1946 to 1964 -- baby boomers -- are at the highest risk for having the hepatitis C virus, as reported by CBSNews.com.
Health officials such as those at Montefiore Medical Center were already expressing concern about the health risks associated with the illness that is labeled a "silent epidemic" for baby boomers, even before recent study revealed the mortality rate for hepatitis C in that age group.
Hepatitis C Study Results
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funded a study, reported Tuesday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, titled "The Increasing Burden of Mortality From Viral Hepatitis" in the U.S. from 1999 through 2007.
The study researchers concluded that deaths from HCV outnumbered those from HIV by 2007. Even more pertinent for baby boomers are the deaths from HCV were disproportionately high in their age group.
Those numbers might have been higher, but because the physician signing the death certificates were often not the person's primary caregiver, HCV might have been under-reported as a contributing cause of death.
Plans to Address Undiagnosed Hepatitis C
A second study published Tuesday, also in the Annals of Internal Medicine, addresses the cost-effectiveness of a one-time antibody blood test to determine if people born from 1945 to 1965 have the hepatitis C virus present in their bodies. This study, also funded by the CDC and the Division of Viral Hepatitis, concluded it would be cost-effective to perform such blood screening through a person's visit to their primary health care giver.
Importance of Diagnosing Hepatitis C
Milan Kinkhabwala of the Montefiore Einstein Center for Transplantation explains, "The blood test is essential to detecting Hepatitis C because now there are ways to treat the condition, and even reverse damage to the liver."
But people can't receive treatment until they know they have an illness, and HCV can be present in the body for a long period of time before symptoms occur, as the CDC's director of hepatitis division, John Ward, said to Bloomberg. The blood test would reveal the hidden virus and allow health care providers to treat HCV before more liver damage, such a liver cancer, can occur.
Risk Factors for Hepatitis C
There are a number of factors that, if present, indicate your risk of having hepatitis C is greater than people who have no risk factors. The Mayo Clinic lists some of these factors as having HIV; having used illegal, injectable drugs; a health care worker exposed to infected blood; received a blood transfusion or organ transplant prior to 1992; or received clotting factor concentrates before 1987.
Smack dab in the middle of the baby boomer generation, L.L. Woodard is a proud resident of "The Red Man" state. With what he hopes is an everyman's view of life's concerns both in his state and throughout the nation, Woodard presents facts and opinions based on common-sense solutions.