Baby boomers should get tested for Hepatitis C - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Baby boomers should get tested for Hepatitis C

The Veteran's Administration in Biloxi is part of a nationwide push to get more adults tested for Hepatitis C. (Photo source: WLOX) The Veteran's Administration in Biloxi is part of a nationwide push to get more adults tested for Hepatitis C. (Photo source: WLOX)
BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

There's a nationwide push to get more adults tested for Hepatitis C in the U.S. The Veteran's Administration in Biloxi was part of that effort Tuesday. 

Hepatitis C is a serious blood-borne disease that affects millions, but many people don't know they have it. In fact, thousands unknowingly live with the disease for years, even decades. By the time they develop symptoms, serious damage to the liver may have already occurred. That's why the CDC is recommending that all baby boomers receive a one-time screening.

Veterans lined up to be tested in Biloxi during a special screening after learning that veterans from the baby boomer generation, specifically those born between 1945 and 1965, are at a higher risk of being infected with Hepatitis C than any other veteran group. A simple blood test will give them the answers they need.

Veterans, like Donald Husley, now know how serious the disease can be.  

"They say it's pretty bad, so I wanted to be tested to know for sure,” said Donald.

Another veteran, Robert Husley, also wanted to make sure he's not infected.  

"Curiosity. I went to Vietnam. You never know. Never know what's going on around here either, so I was curious," Robert said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 75 percent of Americans who have Hepatitis C are baby boomers. Tracy Crevier is a Hepatitis C case manager at the VA. She says they're targeting those born between 1945 and 1965.  

"That time frame is because of behavior that was more risky back then. You were exposed more back then, and Hepatitis C wasn't as well known," said Crevier.

Crevier said as many as three out of four veterans from that age group will test positive.

"You can have it for decades and not know you have it, and by the time you develop symptoms, the disease has progressed pretty far and can lead to cancer and death if untreated," said Crevier.

The good news is treatments have come a long way in recent years.  

"Usually a pill a day for eight to 12 weeks, and we do have a 98 percent cure rate," Crevier said.

Catching the disease before symptoms begin is critical. Once symptoms show up, there's a good chance the patient already has serious liver damage. That's why Crevier says it's important for adults, especially baby boomers, to get tested as soon as possible.

Crevier says veterans and civilians alike should talk to their doctors about getting tested.

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