As many as 4 million Americans may be living with hepatitis C — and three in every four of those infected are from the Baby Boomer generation.
Tanner Health System and West Georgia Gastroenterology Associates are partnering to host a special educational discussion on the screening criteria for hepatitis C and new clinical advancements that can help medical providers cure the disease.
Hepatitis C is a virus that affects the liver, and it is the leading cause of cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer. Most liver transplants in the United States are necessary due to hepatitis C infections, and about 19,000 Americans die annually from liver disease caused by hepatitis C.
While some types of hepatitis — like hepatitis A and B — can be prevented with a vaccine, there is no vaccine for hepatitis C. However, new clinical innovations have led to treatments that can cure hepatitis C, making it that much more critical that people are screened — especially Baby Boomers born between 1945 and 1965, who are 5 times more likely to have hepatitis C than other adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The prevalence of hepatitis C among Baby Boomers may be owed to several factors. The virus is primarily spread through contact with blood from an infected person, and blood products were not widely screened for hepatitis C until 1992. The peak period for hepatitis C transmission was from the 1960s through the 1980s, according to the CDC, before contemporary universal precautions infection prevention procedures were widely adopted. Some individuals may have been exposed through risky behaviors, such as sharing needles or equipment used to prepare or inject drugs, but the virus can spread through any blood contact, including from sharing a shaving razor or toothbrush with someone infected with hepatitis C.
Thelma Wiley Lucas, MD, a board-certified gastroenterologist with West Georgia Gastroenterology Associates and a member of the medical staff at Tanner Health System, will host the discussion, which will cover the easy ways providers have to screen for hepatitis C and the new treatments available to ensure those infected can avoid life-limiting complications later in life.
Dr. Wiley Lucas’ presentation, “Get Hip to Hep C,” will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 29, in the Tanner Community Outreach Room at the new Villa Rica Public Library at 869 Dallas Highway, just north of Tanner Medical Center/Villa Rica. A complimentary dinner will be served. Registration is required and seating is limited. Those interested can register themselves and one guest online at www.tanner.org/hepc or by calling 770.214.CARE (2273).
The discussion is part of Tanner’s Advancing Your Health Education Series, providing residents with access to free health information from the region’s leading health experts and covering a wide range of topics, including heart disease, orthopedics, women’s care and more. Other upcoming opportunities can be found in the Classes and Events calendar at www.tanner.org/calendar.