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The Centers for Disease Control is calling for all baby boomers to be checked out for hepatitis C. For reasons not entirely clear, Americans born between 1945 and 1965 are five times more likely to be infected. Hepatitis can linger in the body and cause damage to the liver as we age.
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Mayo Clinic infectious disease expert, Stacey Rizza, M.D., says it's vital for people to be tested because treatment options are available.
Sound bite /// cg: Stacey Rizza, M.D. / Mayo Clinic Infectious Disease) “However, if the hepatitis C isn’t treated, and a person does progress and have what we call fibrosis or scarring of the liver, then they can always go on to have end stage liver disease - essentially the liver stops working.” TRT :13
Hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver cancer and the top reason liver transplants are needed. An esitimated three million Americans are infected. While other forms of the virus, like hepatitis A and hepatitis B, can generally be destroyed by your immune system or medications, hepatitis C is a tough virus for your body to fight off.
Sound bite /// cg: Stacey Rizza, M.D. / Mayo Clinic Infectious Disease) “If a person is infected as a child then they are likely to be infected for a very long time. If somebody gets infected as an adult, they have about a 60 to 80 percent chance of becoming chronically infected.” TRT :12
While there are vaccines for hepatitis A and hepatitis B, there is not one yet for hepatitis C. Those at highest risk for hepatitis C infection are current or former injection drug users or those who had blood transfusions before 1992 or used blood products before 1987 when national safeguards were put into effect.