Hepatitis C or Hep C as it is commonly called will soon kill more people in the Unitied States than HIV. According to the Centers for Disease Control as far back as 2007 Hep C killed over fifteen thousand Americans while the virus that causes AIDS killed almost thirteen thousand.
For people over 50 this should be especially alarming because;
- Two thirds of Hep C infections in the U.S. are in people born between 1945 and 1964, the baby boomers
- Although over 3 million people may have Hep C about 1/2 of gthem don’t know it
- Hep C is a “silent disease” infecting the liver and doing damage for years before it’s discovered
Although the infection is ussually spread through sharing needles, and the preponderance of casual drug use among baby boomers in decades past makes them more likely to have caught it this way before the threat of HIV ended this practice for many, it can also be passed along by simple blood transfusions. Today all blood donations are tested for hepatitis but this wasn’t the practice prior to 1992.
Dr. Harvey Alter with the National Institutes of Health says that “most people with chronic infection are still not identified,” and recommends that those at higher risk like those that received blood transfusins or organ transplants before 1992 have blood test and be screened for hepatitis C.