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The New Blood Test Every Baby Boomer Should Have

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Dr. Dave Hnida (credit: CBS)

Dr. Dave Hnida (credit: CBS)

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Written by Dr. Dave Hnida, CBS4 Medical EditorActually, it’s not a new blood test, but the recommendation that every baby boomer have it — is new.

That blood test is a simple blood draw for Hepatitis C. And now, the CDC says everyone born between 1945 and 1965 have this test done at least once.

Hepatitis C is one of the liver disease alphabets you’ve probably heard of, but don’t quite know what it is.

Hep C is a viral infection of the liver that is the No. 1 cause of liver failure and liver transplants. Yet most people who have Hep C don’t even know they carry the virus until it’s too late.

That’s because it can take decades for the virus to damage the liver, and most people feel pretty well as those years roll by.

But if you can diagnose Hep C before it destroys the liver, you can be treated with medication that we didn’t have in the past that works pretty well at killing off the virus, or at least keeping it at bay.

We also have Hep C “carriers” avoid alcohol since it can beat up the liver at an accelerated rate when the virus is in the system.

Which brings us to the big question — how do you get Hep C, and why the fuss over baby boomers?

We think people who used IV drugs in the 60s and 70s may have been infected with the virus, even though at the time we didn’t even know C existed.

Plus, people who received blood transfusions before 1992 may be at a higher risk because we didn’t have a good test to screen for the virus in donated blood before then.

Finally, we don’t know if unprotected sex can transmit the virus, which means today’s baby boomers may have become infected, say, during their teens and 20s, and now it’s finally catching up to them.

The CDC says the test needs to be done only once — just as a screening measure — to detect something you may not even know you have.

BTW, the test is not part of routine bloodwork yet, like you’d get during your annual physical — so it’s a test you may be asked to have done, or may want to ask to have done.

It’s well worth it.

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