Hepatitis C cures were back in the news last week, when Pamela Anderson joyfully shared that she is cured of hepatitis C after taking one of the new medications for this disease. This actress was first diagnosed 16 years ago and believes that she contracted this life-threatening disease from a contaminated tattoo needle. (Read more about tattoos and the risk of hepatitis C in a blog I wrote a couple of years ago: Think Before You Ink.)
In her announcement, Ms. Anderson acknowledged how fortunate she feels to have been able to afford one of these new, expensive (but very effective) medications. She understands that all too many of the estimated 3 million Americans infected with hepatitis C either don’t qualify for treatment or can’t afford it.
Aside from the cost concerns, there is another huge hurdle in the hepatitis C world: nearly 75% of Americans who are infected with this virus don’t yet know it. In fact, the largest group unknowingly living with hepatitis C are Baby Boomers, many who became infected before 1992 due to contaminated blood products or medical equipment. This is why I urge every adult born in the years 1945-1965 to get screened for hepatitis C infection. Getting diagnosed is the first step on the road to a cure. These expensive medications are becoming more accessible to everyone, not just the Hollywood elite.