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U.S. News

California: Hepatitis a New Worry for Baby Boomers

May 3, 2012

Federal officials plan soon to announce a new nationwide effort to promote widespread hepatitis C virus testing. Three-fourths of the estimated 3.2 million Americans with chronic HCV, and roughly the same proportion dying from the infection, are baby boomers. Between 1999 and 2007, US deaths from HCV almost doubled. The more than 15,000 HCV-related deaths in 2007 outpaced deaths from HIV/AIDS.

"We have a sort of a perfect storm of an age wave of people who are moving through time who are progressively becoming sicker from an infection that was acquired several decades ago," said John Ward, director of CDC's Division of Viral Hepatitis. "We think we are at a very critical juncture."

Many people with HCV have never been diagnosed. The blood-borne virus often remains silent for decades as it slowly destroys liver cells. In California, state officials estimate hospital costs of HCV-related liver disease, cancer, and transplants surpassed $2 billion in 2010. The new, more effective HCV therapies are not cheap, but they are far less expensive than cancer treatment and liver transplantation.

CDC's current HCV testing recommendations are risk-based. Risks include injecting drug use; having had a blood transfusion before HCV screening became available in 1992; HIV infection; or receiving a tattoo with non-sterile instruments.

At least 530,000 people have HCV in California, including an estimated 134,000 in Los Angeles County, health officials said. For more information on HCV testing in the state, visit the California Department of Public Health website:

Back to other news for May 2012

Adapted from:
Los Angeles Times
05.02.2012; Anna Gorman

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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