Hepatitis C on the Rise in Baby Boomers

Lincoln County Health Department encourages all baby boomers to get a Hepatitis C Infographic1_HepCtest in order to help stop the spread of this virus.  In 2013, the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) announced its recommendation for baby boomers to get tested for Hepatitis C. Hepatitis C is a serious viral illness that attacks the liver. It is spread through the blood of infected people in ways such as: sharing drug needles, mother to baby during childbirth, and sexual contact. For every 100 people that become infected with the Hepatitis C virus, 15-25 people will get rid the virus on their own, 60–70 people will have this liver disease for a lifetime, 5–20 people will get severe scarring of the liver over a period of 20–30 years, and 1–5 people will die from liver problems or liver cancer.

So why should baby boomers be tested?

The Hepatitis C virus was not found until the year 1989 and donated blood and organs were not screened for the virus until 1992. In addition, 70-80% of people with Hepatitis C have no symptoms until many years after infection. Together this creates a high risk of unknown infection for those born between 1945 and 1965. In fact, the CDC states that this population is 5 times more likely than any other age group to have the virus.

In Lincoln County, Hepatitis C infections have doubled in the past 10 years; many of those infections were to Lincoln County residents born between 1945 and 1965.

So what should baby boomers do?

Baby boomers should speak to their medical provider about Hepatitis C testing. Medicare currently covers one test for Hepatitis C testing for the following people:

  • Those born between 1945-1965,
  • Those at high risk because they have a current or past history of drug needle use, and
  • Those who had a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992.

If you have questions on Hepatitis C or Hepatitis C testing, please contact Kristi Krombholz, RN, Public Health Nurse, Lincoln County Health Department at 715-536-0307 or talk to your healthcare provider.

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