Baby Boomers, those born between (about) 1941 and 1960, have been told they need to get tested for Hepatitis C for at least a year now, even if they have none of the traditional risk factors. Needle reuse was still common in the medical profession, and vaccines were becoming standard. On top of that, when Hepatitis C was at it’s peak, Baby Boomers were in their prime dating years—years before HIV scared everyone into using condoms every time.
Unfortunately, Hepatitis C symptoms are silent until the damage is severe, and now, baby boomers are starting to reach a level where Hepatitis C symptoms are apparent—and they need a liver transplant.
Over the next twenty years, the need for liver transplants is projected to increase. That can be slowed or reduced if baby boomers get tested for Hepatitis C, and follow up with treatment. For that reason, the CDC has been pushing for doctors to offer their baby boomer patients Hepatitis C testing.
Hepatitis C is highly contagious, able to survive outside the body for longer periods of time than other viruses—making it transmissible through shared objects. It can take 6 months before the infection becomes chronic, and exposure does not always lead to a chronic infection (strength of the immune system plays a large role). The only Hepatitis C symptoms that show up early are mild flu like symptoms, and then it can be “silent” for decades.
A liver transplant doesn’t cure Hepatitis C, and usually follow up liver transplants are needed. What’s better is protecting the liver you have while you can, and that means getting tested and treated.
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