As a result of this finding, the Centers for Diseases Control (CDC ) is launching a “No More Hepatitis” campaign with screening recommendations. Currently, the CDC suggests hepatitis labs for patient who
- ever injected illegal drugs,
- received clotting factors made before 1987,
- received blood/organs before July 1992,
- were ever on chronic hemodialysis,
- have evidence of liver disease (elevated alanine aminotransferase [ALT] blood level), or
- are infected with HIV.
We now know that ¾ of those who die with hepatitis C infections are baby boomers–most without risk factors as above. So, a new initiative is starting to test all people born between 1945 and 1965 for hepatitis C.
We know that it takes years for hepatitis C to make the liver cells fibrotic or into cancer. And, there was an approval in May 2011 of two new medicines to help fight hepatitis C. So, with the increase in incidence of the infection and improved treatment, we may be able to save and lengthen lives.
I think that is a pretty good combination!