If you were born between 1945 and 1965, you should get tested for hepatitis C, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends, because people in that age group are five times more likely to be infected than other adults.
The virus attacks the liver and in some people eventually causes cirrhosis and liver cancer. More than 2 million Americans are infected—including 1 in 30 baby boomers—but most don’t know it, since it can take decades for symptoms to develop. As many as 15,000 die each year from complications of the disease. The virus is spread by blood.
Many people became infected via transfusions before 1992 (since then, blood has been screened for the virus). Today the virus is most often transmitted by sharing needles; more rarely it is spread via unprotected sex.
There is no vaccine for hepatitis C, as there is for hepatitis A and B, but new therapies can cure up to 75 percent of infections.