Health Officials Urge At-Risk Groups To Get Tested For Hepatitis C

Data Show Spike Among Some Young Adults And Baby Boomers
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An illustration of the Hepatitis C virus.

Health officials are urging people in two at-risk groups to get tested for Hepatitis C, a blood borne disease that can cause liver failure if untreated.

 A Wisconsin Department of Health Services study shows an increase in newly reported cases of the disease in all regions of the state.

The statistics show a spike in two at-risk age groups: young adults who have used injection drugs, and baby boomers. 

"Certainly if you fall into one of the groups, we definitely do recommend that you get tested," said Rebecca Mroczenski, an epidemiologist with the Marathon County Health Department.

"Locally and statewide and even nationally there's an increase in injection drug use," she said "The disease can be spread by sharing needles."

Mroczenski said baby boomers may be infected without knowing it because blood transfusions weren't screened for Hepatitis C prior to 1992.

"Some people will carry it throughout their whole life, and that's where they'll develop the liver cancer," she said.

Hepatitis C can now be treated with a regimen of pills, but treatment is expensive without insurance.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services study traced newly reported cases of Hepatitis C in all of the state's 72 counties from 2011 to 2015.

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