We live in the information age and yet there is one life-threatening piece of information that many of us do not have – at least one million Baby Boomers are infected with Hepatitis C and don’t know it. In fact, health experts says that older adults are facing a crisis of “enormous proportions.”
Hepatitis C is a silent killer. It is estimated that 80 percent of those exposed to the disease will contract it and today three-quarters of those with Hepatitis C are Baby Boomers. They are five times more likely than other adults to have the disease. Additionally men are more likely to carry the virus than women.
It is a stealthy virus that does its work, without symptoms, inside a person’s body for decades. It slowly causing cirrhosis of the liver, before causing mild, vague symptoms that can include a decreased appetite, fatigue, nausea, muscle or joint pains, and weight loss. By the time symptoms appear, it may be too late for effective treatment. That is why on July 28th, World Hepatitis Day, it’s important for everyone to spread the word, increasing awareness of this stealthy virus and the need to be tested.
Baby Boomers were born between 1945 and 1965 and several people used drugs will little information available on disease transmission. Hep C, as it’s known, can be contracted through drug injections, blood transfusions, hospital stays and even getting a tattoo. Today we have advanced sterilization procedures in hospitals, clinics and physicians’ offices to prevent the spread of Hep C.
Public health experts are warning that older adults don’t have the luxury of time when it comes to being tested for Hep C. Because it is “a-symptomatic” your doctor may not know you have it, unless you have been tested. A simple blood test will tell your physician if there is any evidence of Hep C in your body.
This is a very serious health hazard. Both the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization have launched campaigns to increase awareness of Hep C and encourage people to get tested. All older adults need testing to know if it’s time to do battle – and win – with a silent, stealthy killer in your body.