By Ralph Schwartz
What’s the latest health risk announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention? Swine flu? Whooping cough?
Try hepatitis C. The infection causes serious liver diseases, is the No. 1 cause of liver transplants in the United States, and results in 15,000 deaths annually. That number has doubled since the late 1990s.
It’s a blood-borne illness spread through bodily fluids, just like HIV. So what is the most at-risk population?
Most of the 3.2 million Americans who have hepatitis C are of this generation, born from 1945 to 1965.
“One in 30 baby boomers has been infected with hepatitis C, and most don’t know it,” a CDC statement said. (Read the announcement here.)
The federal agency now recommends a one-time hepatitis C test for baby boomers. The CDC estimates it would find more than 800,000 new diagnoses of the viral infection if baby boomers submitted to the test.
More than 120,000 lives would be saved if the push for testing is successful, the CDC said. As many as three-quarters of people treated for the disease are cured, the agency said.