…..Recently, the newspapers have been full of articles concerning the hepatitis C virus (HCV) and a new medication that reportedly cures people with the chronic type of the disease. It is a very expensive drug, but the results have been wonderful; so I think it is time to give a little review of this disease.
…..Hepatitis C is a contagious disease that is usually transmitted through blood contact with an infected person. When first getting the disease (acute HCV), there may be no symptoms or only mild flu-like symptoms. Most people do not even know that they have the disease, and most will go on to develop the chronic HCV, which is a long-term illness.
…..Of those with the chronic illness, about 25% will develop a severe liver disease such as cirrhosis or cancer. At this time, baby boomers seem to be at the highest risk for the chronic version of this disease. This will include the population born between 1945 and 1965.
…..The risk factors include:
- Having a blood transfusion before 1992
- Being on kidney dialysis
- Sexual contact with an infected partner
- Obtaining a tattoo or body piercing with an unclean instrument
- Being exposed as a health care worker
- Injecting drugs
…..Since baby boomers are many times more likely to have chronic HCV than other age populations, a screening blood test should be considered for this age group. Feeling tired seems to be the most common symptom of the disease, so talk to your health care professional to see if a test should be considered for you!