Los Angeles Times (05.02.12) - Thursday, May 03, 2012
Federal officials plan soon to announce a new nationwide
effort to promote widespread hepatitis C virus testing. Three-
fourths of the estimated 3.2 million Americans with chronic
HCV, and roughly the same proportion dying from the infection,
are baby boomers. Between 1999 and 2007, US deaths from HCV
almost doubled. The more than 15,000 HCV-related deaths in
2007 outpaced deaths from HIV/AIDS.
"We have a sort of a perfect storm of an age wave of people
who are moving through time who are progressively becoming
sicker from an infection that was acquired several decades
ago," said John Ward, director of CDC's Division of Viral
Hepatitis. "We think we are at a very critical juncture."
Many people with HCV have never been diagnosed. The blood-
borne virus often remains silent for decades as it slowly
destroys liver cells. In California, state officials estimate
hospital costs of HCV-related liver disease, cancer, and
transplants surpassed $2 billion in 2010. The new, more
effective HCV therapies are not cheap, but they are far less
expensive than cancer treatment and liver transplantation.
CDC's current HCV testing recommendations are risk-based.
Risks include injecting drug use; having had a blood
transfusion before HCV screening became available in 1992; HIV
infection; or receiving a tattoo with non-sterile instruments.
At least 530,000 people have HCV in California, including an
estimated 134,000 in Los Angeles County, health officials
said. For more information on HCV testing in the state, visit
the California Department of Public Health website: