The month of May is Hepatitis Awareness Month. The word “hepatitis” means inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis C can become a lifelong infection of the liver and can lead to many more serious conditions such as liver damage, cirrhosis, or even liver cancer. People with chronic hepatitis have the greatest risk of liver cancer. More than 60 percent of liver cancer cases are associated with Hepatitis C.
Many people with Hep C will not show any obvious signs or symptoms and could be walking around completely unaware of their infection. This is why testing for Hep C is so important. It could be the only way to get diagnosed in some cases.
Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus. This virus can also be transmitted through sharing needles or other equipment used to inject drugs. For some people hepatitis C is a short term illness, however in most people (70-85%) it becomes a long-term infection. Hepatitis C is a serious illness that can result in long term health problems and even death. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C. New drugs are improving the way hepatitis C is treated and can lead to a cure. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believe that the majority of people infected are unaware of their infection because they may not be showing any signs of illness.
Anyone is capable of contracting hepatitis C, but according to the CDC some people are more likely to have this infection. People born between 1945 and 1965, often referred to as baby boomers, are 5 times more likely to have this infection. It is recommended that all people born in that time frame be tested for hepatitis C.
The reasons baby boomers have higher rates of hepatitis C are not fully known. Most baby boomers are believed to have been infected between the 1950s and 1980s. This was a time when transmission of the infection was most common.
Some people who get infected can rid themselves of the hepatitis C virus on their own. Others can develop a long-term infection. Treatments are now available that can cure hepatitis C., but you can’t be cured if you’re never diagnosed. If you are a baby boomer or simply have concerns about this virus, get your Hep C testing today.