CDC Urges Baby Boomers To Be Screened For Hepatitis C - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

CDC Urges Baby Boomers To Be Screened For Hepatitis C

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Dr. Harvey Tatum is a gastroenterologist at Hillcrest Medical Center. He also specializes in Hepatitis C. Dr. Harvey Tatum is a gastroenterologist at Hillcrest Medical Center. He also specializes in Hepatitis C.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

Attention baby boomers, the Centers for Disease Control says you need to be tested for hepatitis C. The virus can be transmitted during blood transfusions and seems to be targeting baby boomers.

Every day, 8,000 baby boomers turn 65 years old. It's that age group the Centers for Disease Control says is at risk for contracting hepatitis C.

"It's a big deal because it can shorten your life. It's an infection that's curable," said Dr. Harvey Tatum.

Tatum is a gastroenterologist at Hillcrest Medical Center. He also specializes in Hepatitis C.

"The problem is that it is a completely silent disease, so there are no real symptoms for it," Tatum said.

He said the CDC's recommendation that baby boomers be tested for the viral disease is right on course.

The CDC is asking anyone who was born between 1945 and 1965, used illegal drugs, received a blood transfusion before 1992, or has evidence of liver disease to talk to their doctor and be tested for hepatitis C.

Dr. Tatum said, most of the time, hepatitis C doesn't cause a problem, but for 25 percent of the patients who get it, it can lead to cirrhosis of the liver, which can lead to liver failure, which can lead to liver cancer.

"Once cirrhosis develops, it's very serious--complications, shortens life expectancy," Tatum said.

Dr. Tatum said baby boomers represent a large pool of patients, who have received blood transfusions and may have used illicit drugs. He said a patient may have contracted hepatitis C years ago and never knew it.

"The majority of patients that I diagnosis have had the disease 15 to 25 years. It's a silent disease, there aren't any signs or symptoms," Tatum said.

Seventy percent of the patients who contract hepatitis C, Tatum said, are eventually cured. In five years, he expects that to jump to a 90 percent cure rate.

His advice, if you're a baby boomer and haven't been tested, talk to your doctor and do it right away.

Dr. Tatum said prison inmates are also at a high risk of contracting hepatitis C and that 10 percent of Vietnam veterans come down with the disease.

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