Were you born between 1945-1965? If so, you’re classified as a “baby boomer,” and your risk of having Hepatitis C is higher compared to other generations. The CDC found that 75 percent of those living with Hepatitis C are boomers. About 1 in 30 people with Hep C don’t know they have it.
Thankfully, Hepatitis C is easily diagnosed and can be cured. But when it’s not, the infection often causes liver cirrhosis, cancer, and even death.
Hold On. What Is Hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is a virus usually spread when blood from a person infected enters the body of someone who is not infected, later causing inflammation of the liver. What’s dangerous is that Hepatitis C often has no symptoms, meaning those infected don’t even know they have it. The risk for long term health consequences remains even when there aren’t symptoms.
Why Baby Boomers?
The most likely reason is use of injection drugs during young adulthood in the 70s and 80s. When needles and works are shared, the risk for passing on particular infections goes up significantly. Hepatitis C is one of those infections.
Of course, testing for hepatitis C isn’t only recommended for baby boomers. The following should also get tested:
- Former or current person sharing needles, syringes, or other equipment to prepare or inject drugs
- Having sexual contact with a person infected with the Hepatitis C virus
- Needlestick injuries in health care settings
- Being born to a mother who has Hepatitis C
- Sharing personal care items that may have come in contact with another person’s blood, such as razors or toothbrushes
- Getting a tattoo or body piercing in an unregulated setting
- You were treated for a blood clotting problem before 1987
- You received a blood transfusion or organ transplant before July, 1992
- You are on long-term hemodialysis treatment
- You were ever incarcerated
- You are a sexually active persons about to start Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV exposure
- You have had unexplained chronic liver disease and/or chronic hepatitis including elevated liver enzymes
Getting Tested Is Simple—and Free
Testing for Hepatitis C with The Project involves two simple steps:
- A rapid Hepatitis C test done through a finger prick. These results are preliminary and come back in a little as 15 minutes.
- A blood draw to confirm results.
A quick note about the finger prick test. If you have ever been exposed to Hepatitis C at any point, this result can come back positive. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have an active Hepatitis C infection. The finger prick tests for the presence of Hepatitis C antibodies which can be found during infection and after cure. This is why a blood draw to confirm results is so critical.
So you’ve been diagnosed with Hepatitis C. What’s next?
The Project will coordinate your care with the goal of getting you cured. Because we have both an on-site lab and pharmacy, you’ll receive the bulk of your services in one location.
But of course, the first step is getting tested. Getting tested for Hepatitis C at The Project is simple, free, and confidential. You can schedule online, call 309-762-5433, or walk-in for testing at 1701 River Dr., Suite 110, Moline.