Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Hepatitis Health Center

Font Size

CDC: All Baby Boomers Should Get Tested for Hep C

1 in 30 Baby Boomers Infected With Hepatitis C, but Few Know It
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

May 18, 2012 -- One in 30 baby boomers may be infected with the hepatitis C virus, but few know it until it's too late for their livers.

In the wake of new statistics showing more than 2 million baby boomers in the U.S. are infected with hepatitis C, the CDC is proposing new guidelines calling for all adults of that generation to be tested for the virus.

Officials say baby boomers, the generation born from 1945 through 1965, now account for more than 75% of all Americans living with the virus. But recent studies show few are aware they are infected or at risk for infection.

"Identifying these hidden infections early will allow more baby boomers to receive care and treatment, before they develop life-threatening liver disease," says Kevin Fenton, MD, PhD, director of CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and Tuberculosis Prevention, in a news release.

Current hepatitis C testing guidelines call for only those with certain risk factors to be tested for the virus.

The announcement of the proposed change coincides with the first-ever National Hepatitis Testing Day on May 19. After a public comment period, the new guidelines are expected to be finalized later this year.

Hepatitis C: Hidden Killer

The hepatitis C virus is spread through exposure to infected blood. The most common means of infection is through sharing of needles or other equipment used to inject drugs.

Researchers say most baby boomers were likely infected with hepatitis C when they were in their teens or 20s.

Some may have been infected when they experimented with injection drugs, even just once. Others may have been exposed to the virus through blood transfusions before modern blood-screening procedures came into effect in 1992.

Once infected, the hepatitis C virus causes progressive damage to the liver and can go undetected for many years without symptoms. Some people may have symptoms -- like fever, fatigue, dark urine, and abdominal pain -- six to seven weeks after getting infected.

Hepatitis C can lead to serious liver disease and liver cancer, which is the fastest-growing cause of cancer-related deaths. It is also the leading cause of liver transplants in the U.S.

The CDC says one-time testing of all baby boomers for the hepatitis C virus could identify more than 800,000 people infected with the virus, allow for early treatment to prevent liver disease, and save more than 120,000 lives.

Researchers say therapies can cure up to 75% of hepatitis C infections.

"With increasingly effective treatments now available, we can prevent tens of thousands of deaths from hepatitis C," says CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, in the release.

Today on WebMD

Hepatitus C virus
Types, symptoms and treatments.
liver illustration
Myths and facts about this essential organ.
woman eating apple
What you need to know.
doctor and patient
What causes it?
Hepatitis C Treatment
Syringes and graph illustration
liver illustration
passport, pills and vaccine
Scientist looking in microscope
Fatty Liver Disease
Digestive Diseases Liver Transplantation
Picture Of The Liver
Image Collection