CDC says baby boomers should be tested for hepatitis C

The CDC wants all Boomers to be tested for a dangerous viral infection many don’t know they have: Hepatitis C.

The AP reported, “CDC officials believe the new measure could lead 800,000 more baby boomers to get treatment and could save more than 120,000 lives.” According to John W. Ward, head of the CDC’s division of viral hepatitis, “The CDC views hepatitis C as an unrecognized health crisis for the country, and we believe the time is now for a bold response.”

The Washington Post reported, “The CDC’s strategy calls for a one-time voluntary blood test for everyone born from 1945 to 1965. The test would be done by doctors, clinics and hospitals as part of routine medical care.” The Post quoted Ward as saying, “Many baby boomers may not even remember the behaviors that put them at risk.”

The Wall Street Journal “Health Blog” reported that data from an online survey by the American Gastroenterological Association indicates that approximately 75% of individuals in this age group have not been tested for hepatitis C, or at least don’t remember if they ever have.

Dr. Bryce D. Smith, lead health scientist at the CDC’s division of viral hepatitis, is quoted as saying, “Hepatitis C is a huge unrecognized health crisis.” Dr. Smith said, “It’s referred to as a silent killer, because there are so few noticeable symptoms.”

Bloomberg News reported, “Liver cancer is the fastest-growing cause of cancer death in the US and hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver cancer, Ward said. A blood test is the only way to identify hepatitis C infections, according to the CDC.” Ward pointed out that “most cancer deaths are going down and this is one of the few that continues to escalate.”

On its front page, the San Francisco Chronicle reported, “San Francisco is home to about 12,000 people with chronic hepatitis C, and according to the CDC, liver cancer from hepatitis B and C kills more people in the Bay Area than anywhere else in the country.”

The Austin (TX) American-Statesman “Salud!” blog quoted CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden as saying, “With increasingly effective treatments now available, we can prevent tens of thousands of deaths from hepatitis C.”

Medscape reported, “Newly available treatments, such as telaprevir and boceprevir, are estimated to cure up to 75% of HCV infections, the CDC notes.”

HealthDay reported, “Dr. Marc Siegel, an associate professor of medicine at New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City, said he supports the proposal.” According to Dr. Siegel, “Hepatitis C is a real killer. It leads to a lot of cirrhosis and liver failure and need for liver transplants. It’s a subclinical infection and it’s often missed until it’s too late.”

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