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Most Baby Boomers Not Getting Recommended Test for Hepatitis C

baby boomer couple sit on dock at lake

American Cancer Society researchers report that most baby boomers, those born between 1945 and 1965, have not been tested for the hepatitis C virus (HCV). People infected with HCV are at greater risk for liver diseases, including liver cancer. The report was published March 8 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

In 2013, the United States Preventive Services Task Force recommended that all baby boomers be given a one-time test for HCV. Approximately 3.5 million people in the US are chronically infected with HCV, and 80% of them are baby boomers. Infections can be treated, but most infected people are unaware they have the virus.

The researchers looked at responses of nearly 24,000 baby boomers included in the National Health Interview Survey. From 2013 to 2015, the rate of testing among baby boomers increased only slightly, from 12.3% to 13.8%. This means that of the 76.2 million estimated baby boomers in 2015, only about 10.5 million would have been tested for HCV.

People with Medicare plus Medicaid, Medicaid only, or military insurance had higher rates of testing than those privately insured. People were also more likely to be tested if they were college graduates, and men had higher rates of testing than women.

The study authors note that their findings underscore the need for greater awareness of HCV testing among health care providers and patients, and the consideration of other strategies such as state mandated testing. 

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as editors and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Recent Hepatitis C Virus Testing Patterns Among Baby Boomers. Published March 8, 2017 in American Journal of Preventive Medicine. First author Ahmedin Jemal, DVM, PhD, American Cancer Society, Atlanta, Ga.