Saturday, December 03, 2011

Baby Boomers at Risk for Hepatitis C

If you're a baby boomer who used heroin in the 60s, you may be at risk for Hepatitis C. Medical experts from the Montefiore Medical Center in New York are urging the general public to be tested for the Hepatitis C virus, especially baby boomers who, they say, could be most at risk for this disease. Baby boomers are more likely to have been exposed to dangerous risk factors decades ago, such as sharing a drug needle, being tattooed or pierced with unsterilized tools or receiving a tainted blood transfusion.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is the most common chronic blood borne infection in the United States, with 35,000 to 185,000 new cases diagnosed per year. Worldwide, 180 million people are chronically infected with Hepatitis C, with an estimated 3-4 million new cases reported each year. The disease particularly affects Hispanics, Asian-Americans and African-Americans.

Unlike Hepatitis B, there is no vaccine to prevent this disease. While the symptoms are similar, distinct differences exist between the two viruses. Hepatitis B is primarily transmitted through sexual intercourse and is less severe.

Dr. Milan Kinkhabwala will be available for a live twitter chat to answer questions about Hepatitis C and liver disease on December 8, 2011 at noon. You can follow @MontefioreNews to discuss #MonteHepC.

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