Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Looming hepatitis C crisis in Canada

When Cynthia was about to turn 40 earlier this year, her doctor ordered a battery of tests – including a blood test for hepatitis C. Cynthia, a Canadian resident, said she was shocked when the results confirmed that she had antibodies for hepatitis C.

Cynthia has no idea how she contracted the virus: She has never received a blood transfusion or medical attention in a foreign country, and never experimented with injection drugs, she said. Doctors suggested there was a slim chance she was infected via dental work or sharing a toothbrush. According to her, if she can get this, anyone can.

Hepatitis C is sometimes seen as a drug addict’s disease, but recent data suggest the largest group of Canadians carrying the virus consists of average adults born between 1945 and 1975. Last year, evidence of high infection rates among boomers prompted the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to recommend that all adults born between 1945 and 1965 be tested and treated for hepatitis C before this latent disease becomes a health crisis.

That testing guideline was supported by the Canadian Liver Foundation, which expanded the birth year to 1975 “due to the prevalence of hepatitis C in the immigrant population,”. 


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