Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Had a colorful past--think about Hep C

Sure you were young once--want to get old once?

Melinda Beck writes about an unfortunate legacy of some people’s pasts—Hepatitis C (WSJ, Sept 21, 2010).

It’s a sneaky sleeper virus—no symptoms for decades as it slowly destroys your liver.

You need to ask for the blood test—it’s not routine. Most cases, 85%, become chronic, but some can go to cirrhosis of the liver and be fatal.

Hep C travels via bodily fluids—sharing a needle, straw, rolled up dollar, dirty tattoo needle, many ways.

Even the blood supply was not screened until 1992—so think about that.

At least 3 million people know they have and probably this number also have it without knowing it.

Hep C can be cured with big chemo drugs—but only in half the people who have it. And it can cost $50,000 a year.

Symptoms are vague—fatigue, maybe painful joints.

New drugs are in development and some docs advise patients to wait for those.

Since Hep C carries a faint stigma of drug use, often people are reluctant to get tested.

Still, the stakes are high. Think about it.

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