Hepatitis risk a concern for baby boomers

September 24, 2012 by Keith Brannon
Hepatitis risk a concern for baby boomers
With one in 30 baby boomers at risk for hepatitis C, more screening is needed to address potential liver problems, says Dr. Luis Balart of Tulane. Credit: Guillermo Cabrera-Rojo

(Medical Xpress)—Older adults are asking more questions about liver health now that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has formally called for baby boomers to get tested for Hepatitis C, says Dr. Luis Balart, chief of gastroenterology and hepatology at Tulane Medical Center.

"This is the first time that a generation has been determined to be of such high-risk factor that they need to be screened," says Balart, who also is professor of medicine at Tulane.

The guidelines, which came out this summer, came about after health officials were finding more seniors testing positive for the disease. One in 30 —the generation born from 1945 through 1965—have the virus, and most don't realize it. If left untreated, can cause serious , including , and is the leading cause of in the United States.

"Roughly 75 percent of those who have exposure don't know it because they haven't been tested," says Balart, who points out that most people with the disease don't notice any symptoms except very mild fatigue. "And fatigue can be due to many things so they don't question it."

He admits that some adults are afraid to get tested because they think there's no cure for the disease or because it has a stigma associated with intravenous drug use. The most important part of testing is getting treatment to prevent any further liver damage, he says, pointing out that newly available therapies can cure up to 70 percent of infections.

The CDC estimates one-time hepatitis C testing of baby boomers could identify more than 800,000 additional people with the disease. Hepatitis C is transmitted by blood and can be spread from sharing needles, tattoo instruments and even razors and toothbrushes. Since most boomers infected with the virus likely acquired it years ago, many are mystified as to how they got it.

Explore further: CDC to baby boomers: Get tested for hepatitis C

Related Stories

CDC to baby boomers: Get tested for hepatitis C

May 18, 2012
(AP) -- For the first time, health officials are proposing that all baby boomers get tested for hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C is a new worry for baby boomers, study shows

May 2, 2012
The number of baby boomers dying from a "silent epidemic" of hepatitis C infections is increasing so rapidly that federal officials are planning a new nationwide push for widespread testing.

Hepatitis C deaths up, baby boomers most at risk

February 20, 2012
(AP) -- Deaths from liver-destroying hepatitis C are on the rise, and new data shows baby boomers especially should take heed - they are most at risk.

Hepatitis C, a leading killer, is frequently undiagnosed but often curable

February 24, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Hepatitis C virus — not AIDS-causing HIV — is the leading chronic virus infection leading to death in the United States, and its victims most often are baby boomers. More than half who are infected ...

Hepatitis C kills more Americans than HIV: study

February 23, 2012
More Americans died in 2007 of hepatitis C infection, which causes incurable liver disease, than from the virus that causes AIDS, US health authorities said this week.

Recommended for you

Novel therapies for multidrug-resistant bacteria

October 23, 2017
During this innovative study published in PLOS One, researchers found that novel classes of compounds, such as metal-complexes, can be used as alternatives to or to supplement traditional antibiotics, which have become ineffective ...

Key discoveries offer significant hope of reversing antibiotic resistance

October 23, 2017
Resistance to antibiotics is becoming increasingly prevalent and threatens to undermine healthcare systems across the globe. Antibiotics including penicillins, cephalosporins and carbapenems are known as β-lactams and are ...

Pneumonia vaccine under development provides 'most comprehensive coverage' to date, alleviates antimicrobial concerns

October 20, 2017
In 2004, pneumonia killed more than 2 million children worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. By 2015, the number was less than 1 million.

Newly discovered viral marker could help predict flu severity in infected patients

October 20, 2017
Flu viruses contain defective genetic material that may activate the immune system in infected patients, and new research published in PLOS Pathogens suggests that lower levels of these molecules could increase flu severity.

Migraines may be the brain's way of dealing with oxidative stress

October 19, 2017
A new perspective article highlights a compelling theory about migraine attacks: that they are an integrated mechanism by which the brain protects and repairs itself. Recent insightful findings and potential ways to use them ...

H7N9 influenza is both lethal and transmissible in animal model for flu

October 19, 2017
In 2013, an influenza virus that had never before been detected began circulating among poultry in China. It caused several waves of human infection and in late 2016, the number of people to become sick from the H7N9 virus ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

AnyLabTestNow
not rated yet Sep 24, 2012
The screeening test is a simple blood draw that can be done in any doctors office. Or go to ANY LAB TEST NOW and they do the test for $49.00 and you have the results next day!

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.