Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Have You Been Tested for Hepatitis C?

Last month the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) proclaimed May 19, 2012 as the first ever National Hepatitis Testing Day and proposed that every US baby boomer (people born between 1945 and 1965) be test for Hepatitis C. Why this unusual mandate? Because the CDC says that two million, or one in 30, baby boomers are infected with the Hepatitis C virus. This group accounts for more than 75 percent of US adults living with the virus. 

Testing is critical because most people aren't aware that they're infected with Hepatitis C, which can damage the liver for years with few perceptible symptoms. According to the news release, Identifying these hidden infections early will allow more baby boomers to receive care and treatment, before they develop life-threatening liver disease,” said Kevin Fenton, M.D., director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and Tuberculosis Prevention.

The release goes on to state:
"Current CDC guidelines call for testing only individuals with certain known risk factors for hepatitis C infection. But studies find that many baby boomers do not perceive themselves to be at risk and are not being tested.
CDC estimates one-time hepatitis C testing of baby boomers could identify more than 800,000 additional people with hepatitis C, prevent the costly consequences of liver cancer and other chronic liver diseases and save more than 120,000 lives."
I hope this proposal is approved. I wish that circumstances were different before I developed cirrhosis and needed a transplant. Trust me... no matter how terrible the treatment might be, a transplant is harder. MUCH harder.

Photo by Wojciech Wolak