UT Medicine San Antonio and the University Health System are kicking off a screening program for Hepatitis C among baby boomer patients at University Hospital. The CDC now recommends everyone born in the years from 1945 to 1965 be tested.
Hepatitis C sometimes presents flu-like symptoms, or it may not. Dr. Barbara Turner at the UT Health Science Center said an adult who is unknowingly fighting the Hep C virus may not know it until they have serious health problems.
"When you get it, you might feel like you have the flu, and you pass it off as a transient, 'I don't feel great. I have a little bit of a fever.' And then it goes away," said Turner.
The Centers for Disease Control recommend this summer that baby boomers get the test once in their lifetime. They are at particular risk for several reasons, including tattooing and unsafe sex, and some transfusions. Turner said the medical community lacked the ability to isolate Hep C before 1992, but Hep C deaths have surpassed HIV deaths, and it’s still on the rise.
"And it is now the most common reason for liver transplants. And it is one of the most common reasons for liver cancer," said Turner.
The CDC has awarded 33 grants around the country for hospitals to test for Hep C. San Antonio’s University Hospital is the only location in Texas to receive the grant.
But Dr. Turner says patients of the baby boomer age should go to their own doctor to ask for the simple antibody test and it should not be expensive. She also said home tests are available online for about $60.