Newark, NJ – The health care professionals at the NJ AIDS/HIV/STD Hotline want to call attention to the silent epidemic affecting the baby boomer generation. While anyone can get Hepatitis C, more than 75% of adults (3 out of every 4) infected are baby boomers, people born from 1945 through 1965. Most people living with Hepatitis C don’t know they are infected because it is often asymptomatic; thereby people can live decades without ever having symptoms and feeling sick.
Hepatitis C is a serious liver disease that results from infection with the hepatitis C virus primarily through blood to blood contact. The longer the virus goes undetected and thus untreated, the greater a person’s risk for developing serious liver damage, cirrhosis, liver cancer and even death. In fact, hepatitis C is a leading cause of liver cancer. Early detection and treatment are key to preventing the further spread of the virus and saving lives.
The reason baby boomers have high rates of Hepatitis C is not completely understood. Some may have been infected in their youth either by experimentation with injection drug use or from blood transfusions prior to the beginning of universal precautions and blood screening in 1992. In addition, getting tattoos and body piercings could have also put this generation at risk of contracting hepatitis C. Because the activity that placed them at risk happened so many years ago, many people just simply forgot about it and therefore have never been tested for hepatitis C.
Testing is important because it will help identify hidden infections and get those infected the immediate care and lifesaving treatment they need. New therapies are available to successfully treat hepatitis C infection and eliminate the virus from the body. Most people do not seek medical care because they are unaware that they are infected. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) offers an online hepatitis risk assessment tool that will help the public gauge their risk for hepatitis infection (www.cdc.gov/hepatitis).
- Referrals for testing sites and other related services
- HIV/AIDS, STD and Hepatitis Prevention Information
- Counseling and Treatment Locations
- Treatment Information