Hepatitis C and the Baby Boomer
Written by Jill Collier, M.D. Medical Director, Endoscopy Center of Toms River
More than 75% of patients infected with Hepatitis C were born between 1945 and 1965 and are part of the Baby Boomer generation. This has prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to recommend routine testing for Hepatitis C virus for all Baby Boomers. Hepatitis C is one of the leading causes of cirrhosis, primary liver cancer, and the need for liver transplantation. Unfortunately it often progresses to severe organ damage before any symptoms are present, making it a silent killer. What is Hepatitis C and how do I get it?
Hepatitis C is a viral infection that is transmitted by blood. The virus reproduces in the cells of the liver, leading to chronic liver inflammation. Over the course of decades and without many symptoms, this process leads to a scarred and damaged liver. Risk factors for transmission include drug use,
tattoos, and blood transfusions prior to widespread blood screening practices of the 1990s. Patients with HIV are at an increased risk, as well as those in the healthcare profession, especially after needle sticks from an infected patient. Still others have become infected without an identifiable source.
How do I know if I have the infection?
A simple blood test called a Hepatitis C antibody test can detect if you have been exposed to the virus. If this is positive, then further tests are needed to see if active virus is circulating in your blood. Once your infection is confirmed by blood testing, imaging of the liver with an ultrasound and additional blood testing to further understand the extent of the infection will be required.
How is Hepatitis C treated?
In the past the treatment of Hepatitis C often required up to a year of therapy with a drug called interferon combined with oral medications. Unfortunately this treatment was not very successful and the drugs themselves caused a lot of side effects. Currently there have been major advances in the successful treatment of Hepatitis C. The treatment for some types of Hepatitis C can now be as simple as one pill a day for eight weeks, with a cure rate over 90%. The treatment of Hepatitis C is rapidly evolving, with many new drugs and regimens being developed.
How can I take charge of my risk of Hepatitis C? 吀栀攀 䔀渀搀漀猀挀漀瀀礀 䌀攀渀琀攀爀 漀昀 伀挀攀愀渀 䌀漀甀渀琀礀 ∠ 吀栀攀 䔀渀搀漀猀挀漀瀀礀 䌀攀渀琀攀爀 漀昀 吀漀洀猀 刀椀瘀攀爀
The most important component to managing Hepatitis C is to know whether or not you’re infected. The first place to ask about this is with your primary care provider, who can easily order the needed lab testing. Once a positive test is found, the next step is to speak with a gastroenterologist and to set a course for a successful treatment. If you are one of the 75 million Baby Boomers in the U.S. today, speak with your healthcare professional to get the testing you need to stay healthy and one step ahead of this insidious infection.
PATIENT TESTIMONIALS “Staff here always receptive, pleasant and caring, including Dr. Collier, as always! Everyone was very attentive and efficient. It was my first time using Dulcolax and Miralax prep. It was easy to take and worked VERY well!” — Jane, 64, Brick “The medical staff was excellent. Dr. Collier has a great bedside manner and explained things very clearly. All staff double-checked and confirmed all of my information before the procedure. Very professional.” — Jeff, 49, Forked River 䴀攀搀椀挀愀爀攀 愀渀搀 䨀漀椀渀琀 䌀漀洀洀椀猀猀椀漀渀 挀攀爀琀椀昀椀攀搀
䠀漀猀瀀椀琀愀氀 倀爀椀瘀椀氀攀最攀猀 愀琀 䌀漀洀洀甀渀椀琀礀 ☀ 伀挀攀愀渀 䴀攀搀椀挀愀氀 䌀攀渀琀攀爀猀
“It was and is a real blessing to be handled by such a competent staff. Love Dr. Colliershe is awesome. — Adrienne, 74, Jackson “I was treated very well by all. In comparison to other facilities (by word of mouth with coworkers), my experience was easier than others. Thanks to Dr. Collier and staff. — Dorothy, 63, Bayville
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