The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention proposed new recommendations regarding testing for hepatitis C. The recommendations were released in advance of the CDC's first "Hepatitis Testing Day" today.
What are the new recommendations?
The CDC is primarily proposing changes to the way hepatitis C testing is approached in regard to the baby boomer generation. The agency is amending its testing guidelines to recommend everyone born from 1945 to 1965 to be tested for the disease.
Why the proposed changes?
HealthDay News reported the CDC is calling the prevalence of hepatitis C an "unrecognized health crisis," according to Dr. John Ward, who runs the CDC's viral hepatitis division. Hepatitis C can cause serious liver diseases, including liver cancer. It is by far the most common reason people end up needing liver transplants.
Why target the baby boom generation?
Infection in this age group is comparatively high. One in 30 baby boomers has hepatitis C, which is spread by exposure to contaminated blood. Some 2 million of the 3.2 million Americans of those who have hepatitis C are of the baby boom generation, according to BBC News.
Why is hepatitis C more prevalent in baby boomers?
The U.S. only started screening the donated blood used in transfusions in 1992, when the risk factors involved in contracting HIV were better understood. Older Americans have a greater chance of having received a transfusion with tainted blood because of it. Hepatitis C is also connected with intravenous drug use.
What will testing do?
Many people don't know they have the disease, as it can be asymptomatic for quite some time. Testing will allow for treatment before a person can develop the more serious physical ailments associated with hepatitis C, including cirrhosis of the liver or cancer. Approximately 75 percent of hepatitis C infections can be cured due to new therapies that have been developed, according to Reuters.
Vanessa Evan is a musician and freelance writer based in Michigan, with a lifelong interest in health and nutrition issues.