News & AnalysisInfectious Disease

Calling All Baby Boomers: Get Your Hepatitis C Test

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Science  24 Aug 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6097, pp. 903
DOI: 10.1126/science.337.6097.903

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Summary

A report issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week recommended that all Americans born between 1945 and 1965 be tested for the hepatitis C virus (HCV). An estimated 2.7 million to 3.9 million people in the United States are infected with this liver-damaging—and sometimes lethal—virus, and many do not know they carry it. CDC calculates that roughly 75% of those infected are baby boomers: 3.25% of people born in that "birth cohort" test positive for HCV, which is five times higher than the rate in adults born before 1945 or after 1965. CDC has determined that universal testing of baby boomers is the most cost-effective strategy for detecting undiagnosed HCV infections.