Baby Boomer-aged patients should be tested for hepatitis C during their annual physical.
Question: I’ve seen TV commercials that say everyone over age 50 should be checked for Hepatitis C. Why is that and why is Hep C dangerous?
Answer: Hepatitis C is a virus-caused, blood-borne disease of the liver that wasn’t isolated until the early 1990s. Prior to that, anyone subjected to a blood transfusion, a dental procedure, or natural birth could still be carrying the virus, which may result in liver dysfunction, cancer and ultimately death. But new drugs make Hep C over 95 percent curable, according to our local expert.
Expert: Dr. Peter M. Varunok, a gastroenterologist in Poughkeepsie’s Premier Medical Group. Affiliated with Vassar Brothers Medical Center and MidHudson Regional Hospital, has conducted some of the clinical trials validating the Hepatitis C pill Harvoni, now a standard for treatment. He recommends a routine blood test for any Baby Boomers at their primary care physician’s office to screen for the widespread virus.
“There’s no excuse not to get tested,” says Varunok. “This can have such an impact on your quality of life and your longevity.”
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