Aug. 16, 2012 -- Effective immediately, all U.S. baby boomers should get a one-time blood test for the hepatitis C virus, the CDC says.
One in 30 baby boomers born between 1945 through 1965 has been infected with hepatitis C, and most have no clue. Hepatitis C can go undetected without symptoms, but slowly causes serious liver diseases, including liver cancer. It is also the leading cause of liver transplants in the U.S.
"Three-quarters of all hepatitis C infections and three-quarters of hepatitis C deaths occur in baby boomers," CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, said today during a conference call with reporters. "Baby boomers are five times more likely to have Hepatitis C than other adult Americans."
The new recommendations strengthen existing guidelines that state that all people at high risk for hepatitis C should be tested. "While we continue to recommend testing for high-risk individuals, baby boomers are now added to the list," Frieden says. This move could help identify 800,000 more Americans with hepatitis C.