Monday, May 16, 2011

Baby boomers still battle Hep C

Posted By on Mon, May 16, 2011 at 1:55 PM

This is your liver on Hep C.
  • This is your liver on Hep C.
Confession: I smirked a little when an e-mail entitled "Baby Boomer Alert: You May Have Hep C & Not Know It" showed up in my inbox.

It's not just that I'm a jerk on Monday mornings. It's that I am a child of Baby Boomers. And that headline just brought me right back to my teen years, when my parents were desperately (and futilely) trying to impart the usual parental wisdom on me.

Here I was, raised by people who glorified their youth of free love, drug experimentation, loud concerts and hitchhiking. And suddenly, when I was 13, they were telling me, "Well, sure, it was a blast for me, but I better not catch you doing it, because, uh ... because ... because ... it's a different world now!"

I remember how I enjoyed feasting on their delicious hypocrisy when I was coming of age. Now, of course, it's different. Now I understand how they must have felt.

And now, too, I understand how much my parents wanted me to dodge all those ghosts of youth that can come and bite you in the ass decades later. Things like Hep C, which is often spread through intravenous drug use.

According to the e-mail press release, "More than two-thirds of Americans with Hep C are baby boomers and 75 percent of those with the disease have not been screened and diagnosed."

Hep C, by the way, attacks your liver. And, smirking aside, Hep C used to be spread not only through drug use, but through blood transfusions.

Read on:

BABY BOOMER ALERT: YOU MAY HAVE HEPATITIS C

AND DON’T KNOW IT

Two-Thirds of Infections Occur Among Baby Boomers;

Three-Quarters of All Who Have Disease Haven’t Been Diagnosed.

Colorado Group Launches Campaign for Baby Boomers to Get Screened


(DENVER) — Stressing the need for early diagnosis and treatment, Colorado’s Hep C Connection is launching a new campaign throughout the state to raise awareness among Colorado’s baby boomer population about a simple blood screening that could save thousands of lives in our state alone. More than two-thirds of Americans with Hep C are baby boomers and 75 percent of those with the disease have not been screened and diagnosed.

“Our relatives, friends, neighbors and coworkers need to hear the call,” said Nancy Steinfurth, executive director of Hep C Connection. “Many Colorado baby boomers are walking around with Hep C and don’t know it. They can avoid devastating, painful and life-threatening liver disease with a simple blood test. By the time the symptoms are noticeable, it’s much tougher to treat.”

Hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease prevalent — and widely undiagnosed — among baby boomers, with experts estimating that that two-thirds of those with Hep C were born in the baby boom years of 1946 to 1964. Hepatitis C ranges in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness that attacks the liver. It results from infection with the hepatitis C virus (HCV), which is spread through contact with the blood of an infected person.

A federal strategy released in recent days recommends placing a priority on screening Americans by age. A new national study showed that screening all Americans born between 1946 and 1964 could save 48,000 lives.

A listing of free confidential testing sites statewide is available by visiting the Hep C Connection website at www.hepc-connection.org or by calling 1-800-522-HEPC (4372).

She noted that an important goal of the campaign is to eliminate false and unfair stigmas associated with Hepatitis C — which often cause men and women to avoid screening.

“Some people don’t get tested because they believe that the only way to have contracted Hep C is through intravenous drug use, and that’s just plain false,” she said. “The truth is that many Americans — including many veterans — who had transfusions prior to 1992 were infected with Hep C before donated blood was accurately screened for the disease.”

Steinfurth said an additional reason to raise awareness among the baby boomer population is that the costs to treat the advanced liver disease that arises when hepatitis C is not treated early are high, and may include liver transplantation. Given that the first baby boomers are turning 65 this year, without changes in the rates of diagnosis and treatment, health insurance and Medicare costs will double in a decade and increase five-fold in 20 years.

ABOUT HEP C CONNECTION

Hep C Connection, based in Denver, is a statewide organization that educates the general public about hepatitis C and provides resources and support for those affected by the virus.

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