The CDC is urging all baby boomers (folks born between 1945 and 1965) to be tested for the hepatitis C virus. Boomers are five times more likely than other adults to have the virus. It can reside silently in the liver for decades, causing slow damage that may lead to liver failure or cancer. Screening for the infection requires a blood test. The next step is “staging” to assess if and to what extent the liver has been damaged. If the liver has minimal or no scarring, treatment might be justifiably deferred for some period. The treatment for hepatitis C is a cocktail of antiviral medications taken for 24 or 48 weeks. Highly effective new oral antiviral medications for hepatitis C are in advanced clinical trials. Preliminary results suggest cure rates up to 100% may be possible with a regimen of two oral medications taken for as little as 12 weeks.
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