Baby Boomers Urged To Be Tested For Hep-C

Liver specialists are urging that all Canadians - born between 1945 and 1975 - get a blood test for Hepatitis C.

It's estimated that more than a quarter million people live with the disease in Canada - and most don't know that they have it.

Erika Vitale is the infection control specialist at Windsor Regional Hospital and says there are very non-specific symptoms.

"Fatigue or poor appetite, stomach pain, maybe diarrhea, maybe muscle and joint pain," she says. "It's very non-specific and a lot of times without risk factors for hepatitis, we may not be looking for that type of a diagnosis."

According to Vitale,  70% of people who have Hep-C, end up with Chronic Hepatitis.

"The virus is still there causing damage to our liver and we may not actually be aware of it until it's actually caused very severe damage or something called cirrhosis which is a scarring of the liver tissue and at that point there's a lot of damage and you could be quite sick."

Vitale addis,  it can take years for the symptoms to appear. "I believe think that's where the recommendation is coming from. They've had some individuals identified that have been diagnosed with Hepatitis-C and were not even really sick, didn't have any of the risk factors — so they're making that recommendation if anyone in that baby boomer population, they're recommending to get tested."

 

— with files from AM800's Patty Handysides