This post is sponsored by Quest Diagnostics
It’s astounding that most of us who were born between 1945 and 1965 have heard about this disease, and some of us even know that baby boomers represent the majority (75%) of all those infected, but almost 60 percent of us have never been tested for it. Astounding, and not smart. Not smart at all!
The disease is Hepatitis C, which is caused by a blood-borne virus and primarily spread through contact with blood from an infected person. While some people only experience a short-term infection, the majority of those with the virus develop a chronic infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This can lead to permanent liver damage, as well as cirrhosis (scarring), liver cancer, and liver failure. Hep C-related cirrhosis is the leading cause of liver transplants. Almost 20,000 deaths were caused by the Hep C virus in 2014, and Hep C-related mortality the year before surpassed the total combined number of deaths from 60 other infectious diseases reported to the CDC, including pneumococcal disease and tuberculosis.
Over 3 million Americans are living with Hep C, which is often called “the silent epidemic” because most of those affected don’t even know it. It’s possible to be infected for decades without a single symptom. Unfortunately, your liver will be severely affected once symptoms of the chronic illness do appear. That’s scary!
If you’re one of the majority of boomers who doesn’t think you’re at risk for Hep C, think again. One in 30 boomers has it. Boomers, in fact are five times more likely to have the virus than the rest of the population. Symptoms may include fever, stomach pain, jaundice, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, joint pain and loss of appetite. Take this short risk quiz to assess whether you’re at an increased risk for Hep C. And watch this video to see how a Hep C test saved Robin’s life.
Hep C rates peaked in the 1970s and 1980s, when you may have been exposed to contaminated blood during medical procedures, or even through body piercing–including ear piercing–and tattoos. It wasn’t until 1992 that blood was pre-screened and universal precautions were adopted for blood supplies. Since the disease can show no symptoms for decades, the CDC and The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommend a one-time screening for all boomers born between 1945 and 1965.
Health officials estimate that this simple screening blood test of all boomers will prevent over 120,000 Hep C virus related deaths. Ninety five to 99 percent of people with the virus can even be cured with current treatments that are simple and that have mild and very manageable side effects. Curing the infection is necessary to stop further damage to your liver. But you can’t cure what you don’t even know you have, so talk to your doctor ASAP about being screened for Hep C today.
Visit KnowAboutHepC.com for more information about this potentially fatal disease.