Hepatitis C deaths up, baby boomers most at risk

February 21, 2012 7:57:51 AM PST
Federal health officials are considering whether anyone born between 1945 and 1965 should get a one-time blood test to check if their livers harbor the ticking time bomb of hepatitis C.

Deaths from hepatitis C are on the rise, and new data shows baby boomers are most at risk.

Two-thirds of people with hepatitis C are in this age group, most unaware of the virus that takes a few decades to do its damage.

The issue has taken new urgency since two drugs hit the market last summer that promise to cure many more people than ever was possible. New research says testing millions of the middle-aged to find those who need the pricey treatment would be worth the cost, saving thousands of lives.

About 3.2 million Americans are estimated to have chronic hepatitis C, but at least half of them may not know it.

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