News broke Friday with surprising Hepatitis C warnings. Health officials reported that all baby boomers should get tested for the disease as soon as possible. This liver killing virus can take decades to show its ugly face and since baby boomers make up roughly two-thirds of the population, there is concern that many people from that generation don’t realize they have it.
More than 15,000 Americans die each year from hepatitis C-related illnesses and the number has been growing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Unless we take action, we project deaths will increase substantially,” said CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden, in a call with reporters.
Hepatitis C virus is most commonly spread today through sharing needles to inject drugs. Before widespread screening of blood donations began in 1992, it was also spread through blood transfusions.
The virus can gradually scar the liver and lead to cirrhosis or liver cancer, and is the leading cause of liver transplant. It can trigger damage in other parts of the body, as well.
It’s possible some people were infected in ways other than dirty needles or long-ago blood transfusions. Some experts say tattoos, piercings, shared razor blades and toothbrushes, manicures and sniffed cocaine may have caused the virus to spread in some cases.
The CDC says that boomers are more than FIVE times likely to have the virus than others. This is a severe disease and is too often caught last minute when a liver transplant is needed.
Officials said they decided to issue the recommendations after seeing the number of Americans dying from hepatitis C-related diseases nearly double from 1999 to 2007.
Another reason: Two drugs hit the market last year that promise to cure many more people than was previously possible.
What do you think about this sudden urgency from the CDC? Is this a good call to help prevent the disease?