Both the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that all “baby boomers” – people born from 1945 through 1965 – get a hepatitis C test.
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Hepatitis C is a virus that affects the liver, in overtime this can lead to serious Health problems including the need for a liver transplant. Some people who contracts the hepatitis C virus are able to clear it from their system, but other people can have serious complications. These complications include chronic liver disease, cirrhosis, liver cancer and even a failure where a transplant would be needed to save your life. Recommendations from the centers for disease control and prevent parentheses CDC and parentheses, are for people born from 1945 to 1965 to become tested for the hepatitis C virus. It is believed that some baby boomers that have become infected during a period of time where in infection control and universal precautions were not set in place yet within the healthcare field (U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, 2016).
Symptoms of hepatitis C can include fever tiredness, upset stomach, nausea and vomiting, dark urine, Gray stool, joint pain, and yellow skin and eyes. Some people do not know they have been infected with hepatitis C, as it is also known as a silent virus. This is why it is extremely important for people especially born between 1945 and 1965 to be tested. Not only should baby boomers be tested, but also people who have received blood donations or organs before 1992, IV drug users, chronic liver disease and HIV or AIDS patients, exposure to hepatitis C or patient on hemodialysis (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016). Over the last few years there have been many advances for the medical treatment of hepatitis C. Some of these medications will treat the disease completely. And if some people aren’t aware that they have the virus, this is all the more reason to get tested.
One of the important guidelines changes regarding the treatment of hepatitis C is that treatment should be recommended to all patients, not just patients with advanced disease (American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases , 2017) (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016).
Hepatitis is a viral illness. There are five different types: A-E. This discussion board will be focused on Hepatitis C (HCV). There are six different forms of Hepatitis C. Hepatitis C is primarily spread through IV blood and drug use. General Hepatitis symptoms include fatigue, decreased appetite, fever, nausea, RUQ pain, jaundice, liver enlargement, tenderness to the upper abdomen and itching. Hepatitis C can be confirmed through blood work. There will be antibodies to HCV noted with a second or third generation enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) (Youngkin, Davis, Schadewald & Juve, 2013).
Hepatitis C Guidelines
Baby Boomers are five times more likely to contract Hepatitis C. It is important for this group to get tested as they are likely to not know that they are infected. It is common for people to live for decades with Hepatitis C and not have symptoms. Getting tested and then treated is crucial because this virus can cause liver damage, cirrhosis, and liver cancer. Hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver cancer and liver transplants. The CDC recommends that all Baby Boomers, those born between 1945-1965, be tested for Hepatitis C and then treated if indicated (CDC, 2018).
Hepatitis C Risks
Like other illnesses, there are risk factors for Hepatitis C. Some of these include previous sexually transmitted diseases, HIV, Hepatitis B, more than one sexual partners, blood transfusion history, and IV drug use (Youngkin, Davis, Schadewald & Juve, 2013). It is now known that the most common contraction of Hepatitis C is through blood transfusions that were done in the 1970’s-1980’s. 8-10% of those transfused contracted Hepatis C. Therefore, baby boomers are at an increased risk of Hepatitis C. It was not until the 1990’s that more effective screening was performed before blood transfusions. This lowered the contraction rate to 5%. After 1993, the contraction rate was further reduced to <1%. Tattoos, piercings, needle sticks and acupuncture continue to be a risk factor to Hepatitis C (C. Everett Koop Institute, 2018).
Hepatitis C Ramifications When Not Treated
Individuals that are infected with Hepatitis C can have negative effects if not tested and treated. If not treated, Hepatitis C can cause liver damage, cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer. Ultimately death can occur. Those infected may not know that they are infected, and they have a risk of infecting others (CDC, 2018).