Hepatitis C is spread through organ transplants, injected drug use and once even through blood transfusions and sexual contact, he said.
"Testing of Baby Boomers is essential to prevent unnecessary suffering and death from this devastating disease, and to reduce the burden of hepatitis C on our nation's health-care system," Ward said.
Testing Baby Boomers could identify more than 800,000 people with hepatitis C, Frieden said.
Identifying these people and linking them up with treatment could cure up to 75 percent of them. "Getting more people with hepatitis C into treatment could avoid 50,000 cases of liver cancer, nearly 200,000 cases of cirrhosis and more than 102,000 deaths," Ward said.
Dr. Marc Siegel, an associate professor of medicine at New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City, said he supports the new recommendation.
"Hepatitis C is a real killer. It leads to a lot of cirrhosis and liver failure and need for liver transplants. It's a subclinical infection and it's often missed until it's too late," he said.
The final recommendations were published in the Aug. 17 issue the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. They were also published online Aug. 17 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
For more on hepatitis C, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SOURCES: Marc Siegel, M.D., associate professor, medicine, New York University Langone Medical Center, New York City; Aug. 16, 2012, news conference with: Thomas Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., director, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and John Ward, M.D., director, division of viral hepatitis, U.S.
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