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Hepatitis: The Hidden Hazard
Date:12/21/2012

are the people who should be screened, according to the task force guidelines. These high-risk individuals have about a 50 percent chance of being infected with hepatitis C, whereas people born between 1946 and 1964 have a 3 percent to 4 percent chance of being infected, said task force member Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, an associate professor of medicine and of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco.

You can't alter the past, but you can improve your future, Bacon said. "There's nothing much you can do about what happened 20 or 30 years ago if you had a youthful indiscretion or were given a blood transfusion, but you can get tested," Bacon said. "We have treatments that can cure hepatitis C, so there's good reason to find out whether or not you've got it."

Bernstein said that cure rates for hepatitis C are now 75 percent and higher, depending on the specific type of hepatitis C infection that a person has.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a quick assessment of viral hepatitis risk.

To learn more about one man's struggle with hepatitis C, click here.

SOURCES: Bruce Bacon, M.D., professor, internal medicine, division of gastroenterology and hepatology, St. Louis University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Mo.; David Bernstein, M.D., chief, hepatology, North Shore University Hospital, Manhasset, N.Y.


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