Baby Boomers: Get Tested for Hep C

CDC says baby boomers need testing for hepatitis C

(RxWiki News) Are you a member of the baby boomer generation? Next time you go to the doctor, they may recommend getting tested for hepatitis C.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is proposing that all American adults between the ages of 47 and 67 be tested for hepatitis C infection.

The CDC says that one-time testing of all baby boomers could save 120,000 lives.

"If you're a baby boomer, get tested for hepatitis C."

The CDC released its new guidelines on the eve of the first ever National Hepatitis Testing Day, on May 19.

Hepatitis C is a chronic disease related to the inflammation of the liver.

It's the most common form of hepatitis, and the virus can lead to liver damage, liver cancer, liver failure or cirrhosis.

According to the CDC, one in 30 baby boomers has hepatitis C, but most don't know it. Over 15,000 Americans die from hepatitis C-related illnesses each year.

However, the disease can be present without symptoms for up to 30 years. The CDC says testing boomers could identify 800,000 people with hepatitis C, and has the potential to save many lives.

Previously, the risk factors that would prompt a test included injecting illegal drugs, receiving blood or organ transplants before it was routine to test for hepatitis C first, exposure to hepatitis C, symptoms of the disease, or HIV. Being a member of the baby boom generation is now seen as a “risk factor” for hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C is often treated with antiviral medications. Side effects include fatigue and flu-like symptoms.

But new classes of drugs are on the horizon. Protease inhibitors and nucleotide polymerase inhibitors are improving treatment options.

Two blood tests are involved in the hepatitis C screening. The results typically take several weeks to come back, although more rapid results are available in some settings, according to the CDC.

Review Date: 
May 22, 2012