The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that all baby boomers undergo testing for hepatitis C, in an announcement given on Friday.
The recommendation was made by the CDC in an effort to find hundreds of thousands of people who have the infection but do not know it. Having hepatitis C increases one’s risk of developing cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Infection by the hepatitis C virus may occur through intravenous drug use or blood transfusions. Even small amounts of the virus may cause an infection. Some experts believe that rolled-up dollar bills used to snort cocaine and passed around from one person to another can carry enough infected blood to spread the virus.
John Ward, head of the division of viral hepatitis at the CDC, shared: “Many baby boomers may not even remember the behaviors that put them at risk.”
An estimated 3.2 million Americans may be infected with the hepatitis C virus, according to epidemiologists, and 75 percent of them are baby boomers.
The baby boomers have been identified for the simple reason that they are the population group with the largest number of undetected cases of infection.
The CDC is calling for a one-time voluntary blood test for everyone born from 1945 to 1965. The test will be part of routine medical care, and conducted by doctors, clinics and hospitals. This strategy may lead to the identification of 800,000 new cases of hepatitis C infection in baby boomers, and the prevention of 120,000 deaths related to hepatitis C among baby boomers.