The Boom of Hepatitis C in Baby Boomers

The Boom of Hepatitis C in Baby Boomers

What do Aerosmith front man – Steven Tyler, country singer – Naomi Judd and actor – Ken Wantanabe all have in common? They are all Baby Boomers (born between 1945-1965) and they have all been treated for Hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C (Hep C) is a serious, blood-borne disease that is affects millions but it is not talked about much. Around 3.5 million people in the United States have chronic Hep C. Many of them do not even know they have it.

Amy Smith, a Physician Assistant at McKenzie Medical Center with 10 years of experience including 4 years of specializing in gastroentemology hepatology explains, “People can live with Hep C for years or even decades without any symptoms, while the disease slowly damages their liver. When they do notice the symptoms the liver damage is often advanced.”

Left untreated Hep C can cause liver damage, liver cancer and even death.

One area of the population that is at high risk is the Baby Boomers. In May 2017, the CDC reported that Baby Boomers make up the majority (three-quarters) of the 3.5 million Americans already living with Hep C. One out of thirty Baby Boomers has Hep C. They are five times more likely to be infected with Hep C than any other age group and are at a much greater risk for death from the virus.

“That is why it especially important for all people born between 1945-1965 to get tested for Hep C,” notes Smith.

There are a few reasons why Baby Boomers are at a higher risk for Hep C. According to the CDC, many Baby Boomers were infected during the ‘70s and ‘80s when the infection control standards were not what they are today. The Hep C virus was not even discovered until 1989. It can take years – even decades – for symptoms of Hep C to appear, so Baby Boomers may only be showing symptoms now.

However, it is not just Baby Boomers who may be infected with Hep C. If you received a blood transfusion prior to 1992; if you are a former or current injection drug user; chronic hemodialysis patients; persons with HIV infection; if you received a tattoo outside of a licensed setting; if you are a veteran (especially of the Vietnam war); and persons with known exposures such as healthcare workers and donor recipient.

“There is NO other chronic disease that can be cured and now with these new therapies, curing Hep C is achievable,” concluded Smith, “I believe we are fortunate to have the ability to evaluate potential candidates for treatment here at MMC and, for the most part, be able to provide treatment without having to refer our patients to a gastroenterologist, saving our patients time and money.”

If you have Hep C or meet the criteria of a potential candidate, give MMC a call to get checked out today: 731-352-7907