Your Health Ben Brown | 7 years ago

Hepatitis C and Baby Boomers: What You Need to Know

If you were born between 1945 and 1965, you’re at high risk for hepatitis C and should get tested. It could save your life.
Hepatitis C can be a “silent killer.” Often lying dormant in a patient for decades, the lack of symptoms makes this usually chronic disease especially difficult to diagnose. “Hepatitis C is a virus that’s spread through the blood, and the organ it predominantly targets is the liver,” said Mark Russo, MD, medical director of Liver Transplantation at Atrium Health. “People born between 1945 and 1965 have the highest rates of undiagnosed hepatitis C,” said Dr. Russo. It’s now recommended that people born within that range, even those without symptoms, be tested with a simple blood test to rule out hepatitis C. Why Should You Get Tested?
  • It’s a Silent Epidemic - Approximately three million Americans are living with hepatitis C and up to 75 percent don’t know they are infected.
  • Symptoms Are Not Obvious - Many people do not show signs or symptoms and can live with hepatitis C for many years without feeling sic
  • Early Detection Helps Ensure the Best Treatment - Left untreated, patients have a much higher risk of developing liver failure and liver cancer.
“I came out of a receiving end of a needle prick and I contracted hepatitis C,” said Atrium Health patient Steve Smith. “I was one of the lucky ones. I didn’t have any problems with it until about 26 years later." Of people who get infected with hepatitis C, most develop a long-term infection. If the infection has been present for many years, the liver may be permanently scarred. This is called cirrhosis. In many cases, there may be no symptoms of the disease until cirrhosis has developed. “This disease is not easy,” Smith said. “There’s good days, bad days, sore days, mean days. But you can get through it.” “My experience with Atrium Health has been very positive,” Smith said. “From day one, I feel that I was very well educated on the progress of the disease. They knew the signs, symptoms and progression of where I was going to be and it made me feel like they were very well prepared, no matter what road my course of treatment took.”  

Hear more about Steve’s journey with hepatitis C:

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