This week the The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommended that baby boomers (adults born between 1945 and 1965) get tested for Heptatitis C.
For more information about where to access testing and treatment, read below.
What is Hep C?
According to the CDC Hepatitis C is a viral infection
How can I become infected with Heptatitis C?
Hepatitis C is transmitted through blood. Therefore, the following activities are considered possible ways to transmit the virus.
Sharing needles (i.e. injecting drugs, sharing tattoo needles, steroid needle sharing, sharing insulin needles, etc.), needlestick exposure in a healthcare setting or by being born to a mother who is Hepatitis C positive (i.e. who has Hep C).
Also, if you had a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992 because there was no screening of the blood supply or transplant organs for Hepatitis C before then you may be at risk.
If you want a more indepth assessment of your risk, you can do a free online assessment via the CDC's website. Click here to get started.
Is there treatment for Hepatitis C?
Yes, a combination of the drugs interferon and ribavirin. Although these drugs do have side effects they can be managed through some medications (i.e. anti-depressants, anti-nausea mediciations, etc.).
There are facilities here in Rochester that provide treatment: Anthony Jordan Health Center provides treatment to individuals just infected with Hepatitis C and our parent organization, AIDS Care has services for individuals who are infected with both HIV and Hepatitis C.
Where can I get tested for Hepatitis C?
You can speak to your primary care provider about arranging testing. In addition, if you have a history of sharing needles with other people (for insulin injections, steroids, injecting drugs, sharing tattoo needles, etc.) you are eligible for testing at AIDS Care's Health Outreach Project. The testing is free and confidential. The process will also include referrals to a competent provider as well as treatment, if you have a preliminary reactive result (i.e. if the test indicates you likely have Hepatitis C).