Did you know that 75 per cent of adults with hepatitis C are from the ‘baby boomer’ generation? If you were born between 1945 and 1965 you are five times more likely than other adults to be infected.
In Australia 1.3 per cent of the population has been infected with hepatitis C. Unlike hepatitis A and B, there is no vaccine for hepatitis C. With antivirals these days it is possible to clear hepatitis C from your system, but only if you know you have the disease. People with hepatitis C often have no symptoms. You can live for decades without feeling sick. As you grow older your chances of developing liver disease, which can be life-threatening, increase dramatically.
An accurate test to diagnose hepatitis C only became available in Australia in 1990, so before this time blood donated to be used in transfusions and other medical procedures was not tested.
If any of the following risk factors apply to you it is probably worth having a simple blood test to ensure you do not have hepatitis C:
- You have had one or more blood transfusions or blood products before 1993
- You have had an organ transplant before 1993
- You have had long-term dialysis treatment
- You have been exposed to hepatitis through a healthcare setting
- You are infected with HIV
- You have a mother who was infected with hepatitis C
- You have injected any illegal drugs – once can be enough to become infected
- You have received a tattoo, especially if the equipment was not properly sterilised
Early detection of hepatitis C can save your life. If you think you may be at risk then talk to your doctor about getting tested.
To find out more visit the Hepatitis Australia website.