Here is some compelling information about hepatitis C:
- Hepatitis C is the most common blood borne virus in the U.S., a virus that infects 3 to 5 million people depending on which data you trust. More people die in the U.S. from hepatitis C than from HIV.
- The majority of people who have it were born between 1945 and 1965. If this isn’t you, it may be someone you know—a parent, grandparent, child, or other loved one. Approximately 2% of the population has hepatitis C.
- If current trends continue, it is estimated that there will be a million cases of hepatitis C-related cirrhosis by 2020. Think about this. Think about what this will do to Medicare. Think about that this means to our loved ones. Think about what this means to you.
- How do people get hepatitis C? Blood transfusions before 1992 and history of injection drug use are the most common ways. Veterans are disproportionately affected because of unsafe vaccination practices, particularly in the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s.
- There are other ways of acquiring hepatitis C, such as inhaled drugs, occupational risks, and long-term dialysis. Sexual transmission is a low among monogamous heterosexual couples but is a possible risk factor. A pregnant woman who has hepatitis C has about a 5% chance of passing it to her fetus.
- How people got hepatitis C is not the problem. The problem is that the majority of those with it do not know they have it. Hepatitis C is a disease that can be managed and treated. Alcohol use increased the risk of liver damage.
If you are a Baby Boomer, get tested. If you know a Baby Boomer, suggest that they get tested. hepatitis C can be treated, but you have to know you have it first.