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Legacy in the News: Health message to boomers - Get tested for hepatitis C

Boom! Boomers and Beyond (Community Newspapers)

February 1, 2013

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a message for baby boomers: Contact a health professional and ask them to test you for hepatitis C.

One-time tests for hepatitis C can save lives by detecting the disease before symptoms appear and in time to be considered for treatment.

“Don't be afraid. Get tested,” said Serene Perkins, MD, liver and pancreas surgical oncologist at Legacy Medical Group. “The most important thing is to catch it as early as possible.”

A liver disease resulting from infection with the hepatitis C virus, a common blood-born pathogen, the disease eventually can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and, ultimately, liver cancer. According to the Oregon Department of Health, in the United States from 2.7 to 3.9 million people are infected with the hepatitis C virus. But some people do not know they have the disease.

“IV drug use is common today as well, and we are seeing a resurgence of hepatitis C in these young people,” Perkins said.

And it's not just drug users who should be tested. Those who had blood transfusions and organ transplants prior to 1992, when the risk of becoming infected was approximately one in 200 transfused units (according to Iowa Department of Health), are also at risk of carrying the virus.

If a person tests positive for hepatitis C, then the next step is to see a gastroenterologist.

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