What Is Hep C Doing In 45-65 Year Olds?

November 14, 2011

Symptoms for Hepatitis C don’t show up right away, and when they do they’re easily confused for the flu. After infection, it could take up to 6 months or more for symptoms of Hepatitis C to show up on a test. Because of all this, many people have Hepatitis C without knowing it. In fact, you could have symptoms for hepatitis for decades without knowing it, while the liver slowly accumulates damage.

Two new studies suggest that it may be imperative for 45-65 year olds to get tested for Hepatitis C.

The first study suggests that having people born between 1945 and 1965 tested for Hepatitis C is cost effective: even though symptoms of Hepatitis C may not be fully present, catching the disease early saves treatment cost later on, even if not everyone tested has it.

A new study released last week has found that Hepatitis C is now killing more people than AIDs, and three quarters of those dieing from Hep C are between the age of 45-64.

One of the main reasons for this is that Baby Boomers, who are most likely to unknowingly have Hepatitis C, are starting to have weakened immune systems, allowing the disease to progress more quickly, and symptoms of Hepatitis C to become far more serious. The median age for Hep C diagnoses is 55. Catching it sooner could make a big difference.

What is Hep C? Hepatitis C is a viral infection that slowly causes damage to the liver. Not everyone who contracts Hep C will get the disease; a strong immune system can often defeat it. Those who do contract Hep C have a detectable viral count at about 6 months, and may have symptoms similar to the flu (fever, malaise).

As Hepatitis C progresses, the liver accumulates damage. Someone who is unaware of the infection may make decisions that are hard on the liver—taking certain medications, or drinking alcohol, for example.

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