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.