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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Another Way to Prevent An STD: Baby Boomers Need Hepatitis C Testing

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has agreed that all baby boomers should be offered a hepatitis C (HCV) test. The new recommendation brings the USPSTF into line with the CDC, which in May 2012 urged one-time screening for all people born between 1945 and 1965.
Previously it has been suggested that testing would be beneficial, but we are actually trying to increase screening which has fallen short of goals. It is a blood born disease: you have to be exposed to blood. So hospital workers and those who share needles are at the greatest risk. About half of all those who have taken drugs through needles will have Hepatitis C.  But it is known that the disease can be transmitted sexually. For those who have Hepatitis C, protection by condoms can help prevent transmission. Like other viruses people can self clear their infection, but also like other viruses, some people are not aware that they harbor Hepatitis C in their system. Hepatitis C can remain without symptoms for decades, many of those infected are not aware of their status, according to the CDC, which estimates that 2 million baby boomers have HCV and don't know it. 
So next time you are at your gyno's office, ask if you need this test.

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