CDC urging baby boomers get tested for Hepatitis C

JONESOBORO, AR (KAIT) -  In the near future, so-called "baby boomers" might need to roll up their sleeves and get a blood test, for Hepatitis C!

In fact, the centers for disease control says it's a good idea to get tested now.

Dr. Shane Speights shared the latest information from the CDC with me. "It's estimated that one in 30 baby boomers may be infected with Hepatitis C and may not know it."

Baby Boomers, those born between 1945 and 1965 need to get a blood test to see if they are carrying or have been exposed to Hepatitis C. I asked Dr. Speights how you would even get this disease.

@Speights, "The main way to transmit hepatitis C is through blood. Either sharing dirty needles through drug exposure or you get it through blood transfusions."

Prior to 1992 blood was not tested for hepatitis c so those persons who may have received transfusions or blood in a surgery may have been exposed.

Speights says there are several symptoms associated with the disease. "Abdominal pain, dark colored urine, skin changes to more of a yellow coloration, even some yellow coloration in the eyes."

Testing for the disease is simple. A one-time blood test sent off to a lab.

Unfortunately there is no cure for hepatitis c. And treatment may be difficult.

Speights says a lot of people will never know they have the disease, "75 - 80 percent of individuals that have it will have it in a chronic state." Speights said it can evolve into a very serious condition. " Liver failure or liver cancer. It's the most common cause of liver cancer and the most common cause for liver transplantation in the United States."

Are there medications that can be taken?

Speights, "Anti-virals we can use to kind of manage the disease fight it off, ward it off. There is no cure for hepatitis c."

Since many boomers have kids or grandkids, can the disease be passed down? It's a yes and no answer.

For instance through the umbilicus to a baby.

Speights, "In some individuals there is a possibility of transmission from mother to child. That varies from person to person."

However, Speights went on. "No it's not passed down from generation to generation. The only real chance of you getting this disease is primarily blood borne."

I know I didn't share needles in the 70's however I did have surgery when I was a kid. Guess I will be getting myself tested.

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