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"Silent Killer" Haunts Baby Boomers

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Described as the “silent killer”, health officials in the U.S. are calling for all baby boomers to be checked for Hepatitis C, a disease that’s becoming increasingly prevalent for the age group. And as RT’s Madina Kochenova reports, decades after their summer of love, many in California fear they’ll now have to pay for their hedonistic lifestyle.

Video by RussiaToday


Hepatitis C is an infectious disease affecting primarily the liver, caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). The infection is often asymptomatic, but chronic infection can lead to scarring of the liver and ultimately to cirrhosis, which is generally apparent after many years. In some cases, those with cirrhosis will go on to develop liver failure, liver cancer or life-threatening esophageal and gastric varices. 

Hepatitis C causes

Credit: Wikipedia

HCV is spread primarily by blood-to-blood contact associated with intravenous drug use, poorly sterilized medical equipment and transfusions. An estimated 130–170 million people worldwide are infected with hepatitis C. The existence of hepatitis C (originally “non-A non-B hepatitis”) was postulated in the 1970s and proven in 1989. Hepatitis C only infects humans and chimpanzees. 

The virus persists in the liver in about 85% of those infected. This persistent infection can be treated with medication: the standard therapy is a combination of peginterferon and ribavirin, with either boceprevir or telaprevir added in some cases. Overall, 50–80% of people treated are cured. Those who develop cirrhosis or liver cancer may require a liver transplant. Hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver transplantation, though the virus usually recurs after transplantation. No vaccine against hepatitis C is available.

The primary route of transmission in the developed world is intravenous drug use (IDU), while in the developing world the main methods are blood transfusions and unsafe medical procedures. The cause of transmission remains unknown in 20% of cases; however, many of these are believed to be accounted for by IDU
Whether hepatitis C can be transmitted through sexual activity is controversial. While there is an association between high-risk sexual activity and hepatitis C, it is not known whether transmission of the disease is due to drug use that has not been admitted to or sex as a risk factor. The majority of evidence supports there being no risk for monogamous heterosexual couples. Sexual practices that involve higher levels of trauma to the anogenital mucosa, such as anal penetrative sex, or that occur when there is a concurrent sexually transmitted infection, including HIV or genital ulceration, do present a risk. The United States government only recommends condom use to prevent hepatitis C transmission in those with multiple partners. 

Body modification 

Tattooing is associated with two to threefold increased risk of hepatitis C. This can be due to either improperly sterilized equipment or contamination of the dyes being used. Tattoos or piercings performed either before the mid-1980s, “underground,” or nonprofessionally are of particular concern, since sterile techniques in such settings may be lacking. The risk also appears to be greater for larger tattoos. It is estimated that nearly half of prison inmates share unsterilized tattooing equipment. It is rare for tattoos in a licensed facility to be directly associated with HCV infection. 

Shared personal items 

Personal-care items such as razors, toothbrushes, and manicuring or pedicuring equipment can be contaminated with blood. Sharing such items can potentially lead to exposure to HCV. Appropriate caution should be taken regarding any medical condition that results in bleeding, such as cuts and sores. HCV is not spread through casual contact, such as hugging, kissing, or sharing eating or cooking utensils.

HCV induces chronic infection in 50–80% of infected persons. Approximately 40-80% of these clear with treatment. In rare cases, infection can clear without treatment. Those with chronic hepatitis C are advised to avoid alcohol and medications toxic to the liver, and to be vaccinated for hepatitis A and hepatitis B. Ultrasound surveillance for hepatocellular carcinoma is recommended in those with accompanying cirrhosis. 


In general, treatment is recommended in those with proven HCV infection liver abnormalities. As of 2010, treatments consists of a combination of pegylated interferon alpha and the antiviral drug ribavirin for a period of 24 or 48 weeks, depending on HCV genotype. When combined with ribavirin, pegylated interferon-alpha-2a may be superior to pegylated interferon-alpha-2b, though the evidence is not strong. Improved outcomes are seen in 50–60% of people. Combining either boceprevir or telaprevir with ribavirin and peginterferon alfa improves antiviral response for hepatitis C genotype 1. Adverse effects with treatment are common, with half of people getting flu like symptoms and a third experiencing emotional problems. Treatment during the first six months is more effective than once hepatitis C has become chronic. If someone develops a new infection and it has not cleared after eight to twelve weeks, 24 weeks of pegylated interferon is recommended. In people with thalassemia, ribavirin appears to be useful but increases the need for transfusions. 

Alternative medicine 

Several alternative therapies are claimed by their proponents to be helpful for hepatitis C including milk thistle, ginseng, and colloidal silver. However, no alternative therapy has been shown to improve outcomes in hepatitis C, and no evidence exists that alternative therapies have any effect on the virus at all


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    Total 2 comments
    • Banderman

      Silent killer of baby boomers? I thought they were talking about Obama-don’t-care.

    • Anonymous

      Baby boomer’s are worth more for the government death.
      Once they die, Federal Tax work on the properties they leave behind.

      That is why is not wise to create a monopoly on medical control to the government.

      Then want you dead!

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