WDEL's Delaware HealthWatch
with Frank Gerace

Baby Boomers and Hepatitis C

The state Division of Public Health wants Delawareans born between 1945 and 1965 to know about a recommendation from the CDC.

DPH's Dr. Awele Maduka-Ezeh says the Centers for Disease Control recommends baby-boomers be tested for the bloodstream infection Hepatitis C, which causes inflammation and swelling of the liver.

Dr. Maduka-Ezeh: "Although they make up just 27% of the U.S. population, they actually account for a whole 75% of Hepatitis C-related sickness and death."

She says people are exposed to Hepatitis C through contact with an infected person's blood, so anyone who used drugs intravenously is at risk.

Dr. Maduka-Ezeh: "And also those who received blood transfusions or blood products more than 20 years ago."

Dr. Maduka-Ezeh says that's because blood products weren't routinely tested for Hepatitis C before 1992.

Hepatitis C is a stealthy disease -- anyone infected with it might not know for decades.

Dr. Maduka-Ezeh: "That's when problems arise, which is why they're recommending that people--baby-boomers who likely were infected 20, 30 years ago--should get tested."

Those problems can include cirrhosis. liver failure, liver cancer and other dire complications.

You can call your doctor and ask to be tested for Hepatitis C--the tests involve drawing blood and having it screened by a lab.

If you're infected, Hepatitis C can usually be treated with medication.

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