CDC makes new recommendations for hepatitis C testing
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Many older individuals are under the false assumption that sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are just a young person's problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people over the age of 50 represent one-fourth of all HIV-infected individuals in the U.S., and there may be many more since older people don't often visit STD testing centers. Recently, the CDC announced that all baby boomers should get tested for hepatitis C.
The Associated Press reported on the CDC's recommendation, which were made in response to the fact that more than 15,000 Americans die of hepatitis C each year, and the number is growing. Health officials say that baby boomers are five times more likely to have hepatitis C than other populations, which is why the CDC is now suggesting that individuals born between 1945 and 1965 get a one-time blood test to determine if they have the virus.
"I have met too many patients who were diagnosed with hepatitis C at the time they developed liver cancer or when they needed a liver transplant," said Andrew Muir, a Duke University physician who is a leader in an advocacy organization called the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable, quoted by the news source.
Muir added that he believes the CDC's recommendations are an important step toward reducing deaths from hepatitis C.
An estimated 3 percent of boomers who get tested for this virus come up positive. Of those individuals, about 75 percent have an active and dangerous form of the virus.
The number of Americans who died of hepatitis-C related conditions has nearly doubled from 1999 to 2007 . In the past, testing was only recommended for high-risk individuals, such as injectable drug users.
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