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Inside E Street

Silent Epidemic: Hepatitis C

More than 3 million Americans, most of them boomers, carry the potentially deadly virus

The hepatitis C virus is the leading cause of liver cancer and liver failure in the United States, and the disease has the ability to lie dormant in patients for decades.

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Hepatitis C, or HCV, was not identified until 1989 — too late for millions of Americans. Because health officials had little understanding of the disease, screening of medical blood supplies for HCV did not begin until the early ’90s. As a result, many Americans who received blood transfusions, got tattoos or used intravenous drugs are at a major risk of having contracted the disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revised its screening guidelines and may recommend that all boomers be tested for HVC. Startling statistics indicate that more than 90 percent of all people who have hepatitis C were born between the years 1945 and 1965.
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