Importance C Hepatitis C screening

Posted by: admin on: April 27, 2012

Due to infection contracted before the era of disposable needle usage, and due to blood transfusions done before 1992 , cirrhosis  due Hepatitis C  is showing  an upward trend. Here is an article emphasizing screening tests.


An estimated 3.2 million Americans are estimated to have hepatitis C, but only about half are aware they have it, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Those who contract the disease can have it for more than 10 years before they start showing symptoms, and some never show symptoms at all.
As diagnoses continue to rise, many doctors are encouraging Americans, especially those at high risk of contracting the disease, to get tested.
“The virus is much more easily cleared in people the earlier it is detected,” said Douglas LaBrecque, a professor of internal medicine who served as director of the Liver Service at University of Iowa Health Care for more than 30 years.
According to the CDC, many of those who are now being diagnosed with the disease likely contracted it in the 1980s or earlier and baby boomers appear to be at the greatest risk.
Sharing needles is one of the largest risk factors for becoming infected with the virus, but those who received blood transfusions before 1992, when widespread testing of blood supplies began, also are at risk.
“We’ve been predicting for 20 years that due to a large number of infections that occurred in the ’70s and ’80s, diagnoses were going to peak between 2010 and 2030,” said Jack Stapleton, director of the UI HIV Program, which provides care for those with HIV and hepatitis C.
Some patients never show symptoms from the disease, but many develop cirrhosis of the liver or cancer, and hepatitis C is a leading cause for patients needing liver transplants today.
That’s why LaBrecque said it’s important to educate not only the public, but also general practitioners, who see patients the most regularly, about warning signs and the importance of getting tested.
“Unfortunately, not only are our patients unaware, a large part of our medical community does not fully understand the problem of hepatitis C and who they should be screening for the disease,” LaBrecque said.
Checking for the disease is as easy as a simple blood test, and with new products on the market to help treat the disease, it makes sense to encourage more testing.
“For many patients who don’t realize they had it, it goes back to something they did 20 to 30 years ago. They don’t think about themselves as being at risk,” Stapleton said. “Now it’s becoming obvious what a major problem it is.”


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