Baby Boomers! You’re especially at risk for this disease
SARASOTA – Calling all baby boomers. Doctors say you’re especially at risk for a disease that many times, comes without symptoms.
Approximately 3.5 million people are infected, 75 percent are baby boomers. We’re talking about hepatitis C.
“That’s first because we didn’t know about the virus in early years, in early decades, and unfortunately many people in that age category did things in their youth that might have led to get infected,” says Dr. Stephen Nicholas, Chief Medical Director at Comprehensive Care Center.
Nicholas is talking about people experimenting with drugs. “It was transmitted predominantly through blood products, transfusions, surgeries, dental work tattooing, anytime with needles,” says Nicholas. “But the vast majority now who are infected are infected through drug use.”
With the heroin epidemic, intravenous drug users are at high risk. Less than 10% of people who should be tested actually are, Nicholas says it has to do with the stigma. “It is a liver disease and many people associate liver disease with substance abuse or alcohol abuse,” he says.
The news is not all bad. Treatment comes with a high success rate. “We have drugs now that are oral agents we call them the DAA’s, direct acting antivirals and they have a 95–99% cure rate,” says Nicholas.
Hep C is hard to diagnose because most people don’t have symptoms, which tend to be vague; fatigue, nausea, and stomach pain. If you’ve had Hep C for years, the damage is done. “Over decades can cause detonation to the liver function even leading to cirrhosis of the liver and even hepatocellular carcinoma, liver cancer,” says Nicholas.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends anyone born between 1945 and 1965 get tested.
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