A call for Baby Boomers to be tested for hepatitis C

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone born between 1945 and 1965 be tested for hepatitis C, yet few of these people have been tested.

In the CDC’s most recent study of the problem, only 12.8 percent of Baby Boomers had been tested.

That may be because people tend to ask a doctor for a test only when they feel sick. I would have never been tested for hepatitis C on my own volition. Rather, I was lucky enough to switch doctors. My new doctor tested me as part of her standard routine.

Not all doctors do that, so Baby Boomers should be proactive. They should ask for a test regardless of their feelings of heath, which could suddenly vanish at any time because of hepatitis C.

The chronic stage of hepatitis C can hang around for decades without symptoms. Amazingly, even when the liver begins to stiffen with cirrhosis, many people have no symptoms at all. But eventually, physical effects can emerge.

After a while the skin may become itchy. A person with chronic hepatitis C may bruise easily, bleed easily, or acquire spider-like blood vessels on their skin. Swelling in the legs, confusion, or weight loss may occur. These are all signs that cirrhosis is present and the liver is unable to manage all of the jobs in the body that it normally it does.

Before that happens, people should be tested. Hep C can be cured, but there’s no cure other than a transplant for a severely cirrhotic liver. It’s time for all Baby Boomers to get tested, so if they have the disease they can be treated. Hep C is curable, but only if you know you have it.

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