WHAT IS HEPATITS C?
Hepatitis C is a disease caused by a virus that infects the liver. The virus, called the Hepatitis C virus or HCV for short, is just one of the hepatitis viruses. The other common hepatitis viruses are A and B, which differ somewhat from HCV in the way they are spread and treated. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an estimated 2.7 million people in the United States have chronic Hepatitis C infection.
Some people who get HCV have it for a short time (up to six months) and then get better on their own. This is called acute Hepatitis C. But most people (about 75% – 85%) will go on to develop chronic (or long-term) Hepatitis C, meaning it doesn’t go away.
Whereas Hepatitis A generally gives rise to acute hepatitis, Hepatitis C results in chronic hepatitis in most patients. An easy reminder is C for chronic in Hepatitis C and A for acute in Hepatitis A.
THE NEW WAVE: HEPATITIS C INFECTIONS AMONG MILLENIALS
An article by MedPageToday indicates that Baby boomers (those born between 1945 and 1965) have long been the generation with the highest rate of hepatitis C (HCV) infection. However, statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that millennials are becoming the new face of this disease.
Young people in their teens, 20s, and 30s now represent the second wave of HCV infection in the United States. Experts believe that the link to these rising rates is opioid abuse and drug injection abuse.
MILLIONS OF AMERICAN HAVE
HEPATITIS C BUT MOST DON’T KNOW IT
WHO IS AT RISK & SHOULD GET TESTED FOR HEPATITIS C?
- Shared needles to inject drugs or straws to inhale them (even if you only did this one time or did it many years ago)
- Had tattoos or body piercings in an unclean environment using unsterile equipment
- Had unprotected sex with multiple partners
- Have or had a sexually transmitted disease
- Have a sex partner who has chronic Hepatitis C
- Have HIV
- Worked in a place where you came in contact with infected blood or needles, for example, healthcare workers
- Received a blood transfusion or organ transplant before July 1992
- Received a blood product for clotting problems made before 1987
- Needed to have your blood filtered by a machine (hemodialysis) for a long period of time because your kidneys weren’t working
- Were born to a mother with HCV
- Have evidence of liver disease, such as abnormal liver tests
- Were born between 1945 and 1965. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a one-time screening for all baby boomers.