CDC recommends hepatitis C testing for ALL baby boomers

New recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding hepatitis C testing received a significant amount of coverage, mostly online, as well as on one of night’s national news broadcasts.

CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden and Dr. John Ward, who runs the CDC’s viral hepatitis division, were quoted in multiple articles. NBC Nightly News reported that the government has a “health warning…for an entire American generation” regarding hepatitis C.

The AP reports, “All baby boomers should get a one-time blood test to learn if they have the liver-destroying hepatitis C virus, US health officials said.” Dr. Frieden, during a call with reporters, said, “Unless we take action, we project deaths will increase substantially.”

Baby Boomers, for the CDC purposes, are those born from 1945-1965.

CQ reports, “CDC says such testing could identify more than 800,000 additional people with hepatitis C, the leading cause of liver transplants in the US and can lead to liver cancer, the fastest-rising cause of cancer-related deaths. The new round of testing could also prevent 200,000 cases of cirrhosis of the liver.” According to Frieden, “A one-time blood test for hepatitis C should be a on every baby boomer’s medical checklist.”

The NPR “Shots” blog reports, “One reason so many boomers are infected is that more than a few used injected drugs much earlier in their lives, says…Ward.” According to Ward, “We had an epidemic of hepatitis C transmission in the ’70s and ’80s, and we’re now seeing an epidemic of hepatitis C disease.”

Reuters quoted Dr. Ward as saying, “Hepatitis C is particularly dangerous because it is a silent killer. It can live for decades in a person’s body, slowly destroying the liver, while causing few symptoms.”

Forbes points out that “CDC screening guidelines are extremely important because they strongly influence what insurance companies decide to cover. In all likelihood, very soon doctors will no longer need to specify that you’re at risk for Hep C to send you to the lab for a blood test.”

HealthDay reports, “The final recommendations were published in the Aug. 17 issue the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. They were also published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.”

WebMD reports that the recommendations’ “release dovetails with a new phase in the CDC’s ‘No More Hepatitis’ campaign.”

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