On The Rise: Nearly 14 Percent Of Baby Boomers Have This STD

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The good news: it's highly curable.

The good news: it's highly curable.When's the last time you had an STD test? If you need a few seconds to count the years ... well, that's what we thought. But you still need them routinely, even if you're a boomer. And a new paper in Annals of Emergency Medicine suggests you should add one specific test — hepatitis C — to your STD menu.

 

After testing more than 500 boomers, researchers from the emergency department at the University of Alabama at Birmingham recently discovered the rate of hepatitis C among patients born between 1945 and 1965 was 13.5% — more than double the 3-5% they expected. The rates were so high that researchers figured their initial results were a fluke. But the numbers were right, which is why the department plans on screening 15,000 more people in the coming year.

It's serious stuff, too: hepatitis C can remain dormant in the body for decades, only to show itself later on in the form of cirrhosis, liver disease, or liver cancer. According to the CDC, for every 100 positive patients, between 5 and 20 will develop cirrhosis over several decades, and between one and five will die.

Hepatitis C used to be regularly screened for in drug users, HIV-positive patients, and anyone who had a blood transfusion before 1992. And since the 1990s, hep-C rates have decreased by 90%. So why the sudden uptick in the boomer demographic? Since that major decrease, paper author Ryan L. Nave believes many of the infected boomers used to be high-risk and have since changed their behavior — but never got tested. He also attributes it to decreased public awareness about the disease and a lack of health insurance coverage for the test.

Thankfully, new therapies can now stop the progression of the once-misunderstood disease to the point of a cure: all it takes is a simple blood test. Not covered under health insurance? The test is now becoming more widely available at clinics much like the one used in the study.

Hep-C isn't the only STD on the rise among older Americans. Check out Your Guide to STDs Over 40 to learn more about your risk.

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Originally written by Nina Elias of Prevention

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