When one thinks of a fast killing disease, cancer or HIV/AIDS may come to mind. After two government studies, it was shown that hepatitis C has surpassed HIV as a killer in adults. Screening adults from the “baby boomers” generation may help slow down hepatitis C’s spread.
Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis infection. People spread the disease by coming into contact with infected blood. About 75-85% of infections can lead to a dangerous disease such as liver cancer. When compared to the HIV disease, hepatitis C is likely to go unnoticed at the time of death.
The initial infection of hepatitis C can go unnoticed for years. The infection has no indicators to look for. Most cases have no symptoms, until severe liver diseases have been formed. Reuters Health states that “the virus silently damages the liver over the years, and people may only discover they are infected when they develop irreversible liver cirrhosis.”
Chronic hepatitis C is common among the baby boomer generation. This is because quite a few of them injected themselves with drugs during the 60s, 70s, and 80s. They would share needles, which would spread the hepatitis C infection to others.
Certain blood transfusions were also the cause of spreading hepatitis C. Since the early 90s, all blood donations have been tested for hepatitis C to prevent spreading it.
People who contracted hepatitis C are now at the age where liver symptoms would begin to show. The biggest problem is that many people who have hepatitis C are still unidentified. Researchers have made advances in hepatitis C treatments, and want to locate the infected persons. They are considering performing a mass screening of everyone qualifying as a baby boomer.
While the treatment plans for hepatitis C still have unpleasant side effects, it’s better than potentially dying. Screening and treating patients would decrease the death rate from hepatitis C an extra 82,000.
The screening would be very cost-effective. The liver diseases people could contract from hepatitis C often require a liver transplant. Screening patients is by far cheaper than undergoing a transplant of any kind.
There are many other treatment options being formulated for hepatitis C infections. So far screening would be limited to the baby boomer generation. Researchers and doctors are hopeful that younger generations do not show signs of hepatitis C.