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Baby Boomers More Prone to Hepatitis C, Experts Share Things to Know

Loganville, Ga. (August 28, 2020) – People born between 1945 to 1965 are considered “baby boomers,” a generation now in their late-50s to early-70s whose members are five times more likely to have hepatitis C than other generations, according to experts like Kimberly Pegues, MS, FNP-C, a board-certified nurse practitioner who recently joined Piedmont Physicians Gastroenterology in Loganville. Pegues aims to share important information and recommendations about hepatitis C, a viral infection that causes liver inflammation, sometimes leading to serious liver damage or eventually liver cancer.

“Though there’s no single reason why this generation is at higher risk for this infection, research shows it’s likely primarily due to blood transfusions and processes for medical procedures in the past,” Pegues said. “While the baby boomer generation grew up during a time when hepatitis C wasn’t routinely tested for, so it wasn’t commonly identified and treated.”

Regardless of the cause, Pegues says the disease can now not only be easily tested for, but it also can be easily cured in eight to 12 weeks with the right medications.

“Treatments in the past were more complicated. Today, people who’ve received a hepatitis C diagnosis only need medications for around eight to 12 weeks. Once treatment is finished, they’re considered cured from the disease, if the viral load remains undetected,” Pegues said.  

As a nurse practitioner with specialized training in gastroenterology or the digestive system, Pegues provides care to patients with many types of gastrointestinal diseases and conditions, including liver, gallbladder, stomach and intestinal and pancreatic diseases. Hepatis C is a virus of the liver caused by the hepatitis C virus (also known as HCV), which is spread through contact with infected blood.

According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 2.4 million people in the United States were living with hepatitis C in 2013-2016. When left untreated, Pegues says hepatitis C can cause scarring of the liver or other liver cirrhosis, liver cancer, and even liver failure.

“It’s also important to understand that many people can have hepatitis C for decades without any notable symptoms,” Pegues said. “But the longer someone goes undiagnosed, the more likely they’ll experience serious health complications or may require a liver transplant.”  

According to Pegues, testing and treatment is available at Piedmont Physicians Gastroenterology. To test for hepatitis C antibodies in a person’s blood. This test indicates if a person has ever been exposed to the hepatitis C virus, but it doesn’t determine if there is active hepatitis C in the bloodstream. Further testing can detect active hepatitis C.

“Ease of testing and treatment should be reason enough to get tested yourself,” Pegues said. “Though research has shown that the baby boomer generation is more prone to hepatitis C, it still affects every age group. That’s why it’s now recommended that all adults 18 years and older should be tested at least once in their lifetime for this curable virus. My goal is to reduce hepatitis C cases in the community, and learning your hepatitis C status is crucial because the sooner the disease is treated, the better your chances of a cure.”  

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