ST. LOUIS - Hepatitis C is a very serious, silent disease affecting an estimated 4.5 million people in the United States, often with no symptoms until the disease has progressed and caused liver cancer or liver failure. Hepatitis C is the leading of cause of liver failure and the need for a liver transplant.
Turns out that baby boomers, people born between 1945 and 1965, are five times more likely to test positive for hepatitis C than any other age group. Why? Because prior to 1992, the blood supply was not tested for this disease and people may have been exposed through a blood transfusion. Or possibly through a medical procedure, a tattoo, or piercing, before strict infection control precautions were adopted.
If you’re in this age group, you should ask your primary care doctor to include a Hepatitis C screening in your next exam. It’s a simple blood test.
If someone tests positive, they most likely will be referred to a specialist who can determine which of several new medications is best for each individual. And the good news is that these new medicines have a 97 percent cure rate and have minimal side effects.
So just because you don’t have any symptoms, if you’re in this age group or have a loved one in this group, be sure to get tested!
To learn more about the Hepatitis C clinic, click here.
The SSM Health Medical Minute airs every Wednesday at 7 PM on KPLR News 11 and at 9 PM on KTVI Fox 2 News.