NOW LIVE: Eyewitness News

Hepatitis C Surpasses AIDS As Killer, Hitting Baby-Boom Generations Hardest

By Lynne Adkins

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A new study indicates that one in every 33 baby boomers has the Hepatitis C virus, and many don’t even know they have this liver destroying disease.

Federal health officials say Hepatitis C is now killing more people than the AIDS virus, and most are over 45 years of age.

Dr. Robert Bettiker, associate professor of medicine in infectious diseases at Temple University School of Medicine, says that once symptoms appear, the liver is already damaged.

He says the major symptoms include “pain in the right upper quadrant (of your abdomen) that goes on for days or months. Your eyes might turn yellow, you might start bleeding a lot if you get a cut, and the veins in your esophagus can get really big and can rupture.”

Dr. Bettiker says if you had a blood transfusion before 1990 (when routine screening for hepatitis C in donated blood began) or have ever used intravenous drugs, you should tell your doctor. A blood test can determine if you’ve been exposed to the deadly virus, and early treatment could be effective.

Top Content On CBSPhilly

More from Lynne Adkins

One Comment

  1. Tell People says:

    More people need to know about Hepatitis C the education is just not good enough its up to you who read these articles to spread the word for your sake and your children. AIDS receives more funding than any other disease, AIDS research is heavily funded and celebrity driven whilst Hepatitis C is not we need to change this way of thinking.

  2. Steve says:

    The new treatment for hepatitis C is a treatment of Incivek, peg interferon and ribavirin. Its a rough chemo but it is being called a cure. I have just finished up a six month treatment program and I’m virus free. I’m lucky that I caught the disease very early and have no liver damage. Get a blood test. You can be cured of this killer, I’m living proof.

  3. Pat says:

    I was diagnosed with HepC about 6 years ago. I had the conventional treatment and unfortunatly I was a non responder and treatment was stopped early. My counts went down considerabley but not down far enough to be considered cured. So I looked into homeopathy and I am on several different supplements and herbs. My blood counts are still not back to normal, but they are not super elevated either. I feel great. Try it, can hurt. There are many naturopaths and hollistic people who get good results with treating HepC. Peace and blessings to those who are fighting this disease.

    1. Keyhoe says:

      My husband went on the newest treatment of inciveck , interferon and ribovirin. He previously was on just interferon and ribovirin. It did not work. We are pleased to report He is a rapid responder!! After 12 weeks his viral load is at ZERO. He has had the virus over 20 years. Just wanted to put this info out there for anyone who may have failed with the last treatment and may be interested in trying again! Tthere is hope for anyone who who like to try the triple treatment. Good Luck to all!!

  4. Jim in Houston says:

    I suspect a lot of this is a result of all the piercings and tattoos that have become so popular among this age group.

  5. J says:
    Everything you’d ever want to know, from a RELIABLE source!
    Be informed, stay well, and if you have Hep C do the best you can to live as well as you are able for as long as you can! If you happen to know someone living with Hep C, love and support them while you can!

  6. Oblio says:

    gartay is correct. Hep C is curable thru a 48 week treatment of Ribavirn and Inteferon. It does take its toll tho. I was dagnosed with it. When I completed the treatment it pretty much destroyed what liver I had left. I was then a candidate for a liver transplant. But unfortunately during the evaluation process for a transplant I developed liver cancer so now I athe bad side Im no longer eligable for a transplant because the cancer is too aggressive. So on the good side I am Hep C free and on bad side I now just have to wait for the cancer to take me.

    So my advice to all is to get tested. The earlier it is detected and treated the greater your chance of survival.

    1. robert says:

      i wish all the best,i hope you have inner peace and happiness. Robert

      1. Craig Slikker says:

        I wish you the best also. There are those of us out there who understand our common mortality. We are all standing in line, but God does give us tomorrow. Tomorrow is all we can expect and you and I will see the sun rise at least one more time. And then perhaps one more after that. I am not greedy. I appreciate every time it happens.

        Thank you for your post.

  7. Barack Obama says:

    Congrats, Hepatitis C! Of course if the Republicans were in charge, you’d still be a remote #2 to AIDS. They don’t want you to be #1. They’re only looking out for the rich diseases.

    1. Jeffrey Douglass Sr. says:

      Fools, fools!

    2. Rocco says:

      If Republicans were in charge, they would screen many more possible vicitms because it would be in the financial best interest of a company to come up with an even better test than what they have now.

    3. Jim in Houston says:

      Are you as stupid as your comment sounds?

  8. Kerwin says:

    As a Hep/C carrier (in remission) I can tell you for certain that being tested for it is the best thing you can do for yourself. All it takes is a blood test (and possibly a liver biopsy) but it’s worth the effort. The alternative is liver disease and possibly liver cancer and that’s not something you want to ignore! If you feel weak, have yellowed eyes, or even just sleep a lot I’d recommend being tested just to be on the safe side. Like Nike says “Just do it”!

    1. james says:

      You know or should know there is no remission with hep C. Either you have it or you don’t.

  9. Crawdad says:

    I had Hep C geno type 1A.
    The worst.
    Treatment has worked and I have been clean for over 5 years

  10. Dori says:

    Tattoos are the biggest contributor to new cases of Hep C. Many tattoo shops reuse the ink—even though they use new needles. The ink is expensive. You are stupid if you get a tattoo.

    1. IgNore says:

      Not always. My tattoo artist opened new ink for mine and I’ve witnessed many other new inks being opened for friends tattoos. It may be that private individuals reuse ink, but defiantly not the professionals.

    2. J says:

      I’m sure that piercing has contributed its share of cases of Hep C over the decades. Even to the unsuspecting teens getting their ears pierced at malls in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s… (or any piercing method not perfromed by a doctor). Before the 1990’s the medical community didn’t have a definitive test for it. That is why anyone receiving blood may have been exposed. How many of them had subsequent piercings and may have passed it on to others? I’m not convinced that all piercing implements are sterile, same is true for tattoos equipment… It only takes microscopic amount of contamination to infect.

    3. Arosa says:

      They don’t reuse the ink. You’re misinformed. They pour the ink they’ll need from a larger bottle into sterile plastic one-use-only ink wells (they look like little caps) in which the needle is dipped. The bottle is then put away in a safe place. The ink is never cross-contaminated if the artist knows what he/she is doing.

  11. jc says:

    been there done that is wrong! I had the disease for 25 years and standard dual treatment has been successful.

  12. Ken Puck says:

    Whoa! What’s up with this statistic? An article in Science Daily last June 22 announced that 75% of all hepatitis C cases were CURED with a regimen of telaprevir (Incivek) plus the standard pegylated-interferon and ribovirin:

    Sounds like the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. Or maybe the FDA is holding up an approval. Wouldn’t be the first time.

    1. james says:

      75% in one trial study of a few hundred people during the approval process. There are categories where it’s less than 75%. There is no reason to believe the 75% number won’t be reached in the real world but the drug only came to the market in May of 2011. Few people have completed treatment of 24 or 48 weeks plus the six months wait before the final test to find out if they are actually cured. So in a sense the 75% is a projected cure rate not yet a realized rate. Meanwhile, huge numbers of boomers, have had Hep C for 20/30/maybe even 40 years and still don’t know it. It is a largely symptomless disease until the final stage. If you reach Stage 4 (cirrhosis) or End Stage Liver Disease, you are in a heap of trouble. If you have ESLD only a transplant can help you and then you’ll still have to get rid of the disease.

  13. HerrStig says:

    I have a great idea, let’s bring MORE unimmunized illegals into this country to voter for Obama.

    1. RaidE8. says:

      There is no vaccine for Hep C.

  14. Kelli says:

    The vast majority of Hep C is due to drug use, especially IV drug abuse but also snorted drugs (snorting even once) and unsterile tattooing. I care for these patients everyday. They contract the illness in their 20s from doing drugs and by their 40s and 50s they have cirrhosis or liver cancer. The lack of education on this deadly disease is sad.

    1. ks says:

      There is no such thing as sterile tattooing. You CAN NOT sterilize INK! Iron oxide used in ink also can ignite in the OR if a spark occurs. I have seen a tattoo ignite.

      How come I never see any warnings on these ridiculous TV shows.

      Buyer beware and how do those hideous things look 40 years later,UGH1

    2. Johns says:

      Anecdotal evidence: I am an early Baby Boomer and have been seeing my contemporaries drop dead from liver cancer for the past 15 years. The ones who had an early diagnosis for Hep C and had the wit to get treatment are the survivors. The ones who present for medical care once they have severe symptoms die.

      Youthful stupidity like intravenous drugs and tattoos make for a sad future.

  15. Craig says:

    The medical community is not very good at treating diseases–be they a virus or bacteria. And the drug companies are really bad. Most of their drugs don’t even work.

    1. Dave says:

      Right. That’s why people are dropping by the millions each day, we’ll be extinct in a week.

      What are you, 12?! Friggin idiot.

    2. BigDaddyWeave says:

      I’m a Hep C survivor and would like to thank the evil drug companies for saving my life!

      1. Kerwin says:

        I’ll second that! I’ve been in remission for 10 years and still show no signs when tested.

    3. Johns says:

      Craig, have you been taking Stupid Pills? Go to your doctor and get the condition cured.

  16. Tracy Schillaci says:

    There is no way that 1 in 33 have hep C! Someone is selling something.

  17. D SAMMIS says:

    Killed by AIDS is a phony issue to start with. There is no such killer disease as AIDS. Everyone dies of some other common ailment as a result of a poor or nonexistant immune system, The aids statisics go up and down like a yoyo as the health industry adds or removes contribiting diseases to the definition.

  18. Eric says:

    They mention Blood transfusions and IV drug use, but they neglect to mention anal sex as a risk factor…as well as coming into CONTACT with someone else’s blood.

    1. John H. says:

      Right Eric. Not only anal sex, but promiscuous sex period. It should come as no shock that 1 out of 33 ppl has the disease among Baby Boomers. The generation of ‘free love’ and the harbingers of the sexual revolution are now discovering yet another consequence of their cause. Truly civilized people recognize the value of monogamous relationships. It is a shame that we are still telling ourselves “what could it hurt?” Hopefully we learn soon.

      1. J says:

        Dear John,
        Hep C is NOT that easy to pass on to others. It requires direct blood-to-blood contact. People can live their whole lives and never infect their spouse or children. BIG difference between HIV, HepA, HepB, and Hep C. Folks should look up the ways each is contracted and the appropriate precautions that each type requires so as to not spread infections. SEE: hepatitis central

    2. been there done that says:

      Most USA Hep C cases are Type A. Then there is a large growing population who also have Hep C but Type B ( Only type that is cureable).Hemoglobin based shots for Mono were made in France where Hep B is common. These shots increased the making of red blood cells for oxygen .Many of today’s Hep C patients ( type B) were given these tainted shots from Doctors if they had Mono. Tests to separate Hep C from other Heps ( there are 5) were perfected only 15 or so years ago. So many people who may have had a diagnosis of Hep B were misdiagnosed. Hep C generally shows no side effects until its late, late stages.Getting Hep C from sex is super rare unless blood is mixed. Direct blood contact is only a danger if you somehow absorb the blood. IV drug use of course is a direct way to exchange the disease. Treatment ONLY works well if you are very early into the disease. If you have had the disease for over a decade nothing can be done and conventual treatment may even damage the liver more than it was. Hep C grows super slow and most die with it and never know they had it. Its best to know so you can prevent spreading it. Hep C does prevent you from obtaining Life or Private Health insurance. PURE WATER is your best friend ( remove the chlorine) Eating lean protein and tons of fruit and veggies ( dark berries, plums, cherries and Leafy greens.spinach and kale ) over fatty fast foods and instant foods. ALL viruses LOVE SUGAR !. Eat sugar and you grow the virus substantially. B-12 and Big doses of Vit. C are good support. Early deaths generally come to those who abuse their body. Alcohol is OUT COMPLETELY. Smoking anything is never good for any part of the body.

      1. Sidney 7 says:

        Great comment and excellent summary!

      2. gartay says:

        You need to check your facts. Hep C type A has an 80% cure rate and type B has about a 60% cure rate. Those rates include all who are treated, including those who have had the virus for 40 years. The treatment is brutal, though.– 48 weeks of Ribavirin and Inteferon. Bur, it IS curable.

      3. StopRunningMadeUpStories says:

        Even more interesting is all the made up news controlled by unelected officials in Washington trying to take attention away from the truth leaking out about the coup and cover up.

        Our next election is shaping up to be as big of a sham as the last. Do you know why Sarah Palin’s bus tour was really canceled? Do you know why she stayed 30 miles away from the second debate and chose the death of Steve Jobs to announce that she’s not running? Know what leaked out? Sarah Palin and Cain aren’t in the race for the same reason, the truth leaked out.

      4. Mutt says:

        you are wrong in several areas. You definitely can be cured if you have had hep c more than a decade. You can also get life insurance after a diagnosis of hep c. I know these things for an absolute fact.

      5. Johns says:

        Very good advice. My nephew has Hep C and at one time we took him in and as a condition of our support we made him eat a healthy diet as you advise and to quit smoking and drinking. In six months he was a different person and could rejoin the human race and get a job.

        My brother-in-law was undiagnosed until his death, smoked and drank excessively and had a miserable premature death from liver cancer.

Comments are closed.

More From CBS Philly

Getaway Guide: Best Of The Jersey Cape Clams

Watch & Listen LIVE