Calgary

Baby boomers should get tested for hepatitis C, says doctor

More than three-quarters of people who have hepatitis C are baby boomers, and many of them don't even know they have it.

Disease can lurk for years before serious complications arise

Hepatitis C can lurk in a body for years before leading to severe health issues. (Valentin Flauraud/Reuters)

More than three-quarters of people who have hepatitis C are baby boomers, and many of them don't even know they have it, according to Laura Stinton, a clinical assistant professor at the University of Calgary.

"When it's acquired, usually it's an asymptomatic or silent infection. People don't even know that they have it. And then years later is when the complications can happen, and the main complication in a minority of patients is that it does go on to develop cirrhosis," she said.

Stinton will be speaking Saturday at the LiveRight health forum at the Foothills Hospital.

She's calling on those born between 1945 and 1965 to get tested.

"A lot of that generation had risk factors that they might have not even known at that time were risk factors, whether it was experimenting with drugs, things like that, and they might not even know that they were exposed," Stinton said.

Undiagnosed hepatitis C can lead to cancer or even the need for a liver transplant. Luckily, said Stinton, new medication can cure many people who contract the disease.

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