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Efforts continue to quell the backlash over President Donald Trump’s changing statements on the Russia summit. Also on the Thursday rundown: protestors are out for Mike Pence’s visit to Missouri; and nobody wants to go, but one option is green burials.

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Baby Boomers Urged to Ask for Hepatitis C Test

One in 30 baby boomers in the U.S. has Hepatitis C, which becomes a chronic condition when undiagnosed or untreated. (Virginia Carter)
One in 30 baby boomers in the U.S. has Hepatitis C, which becomes a chronic condition when undiagnosed or untreated. (Virginia Carter)
May 22, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS – One in 30 baby boomers has Hepatitis C – and most don't even know it.

It's a chronic viral infection that affects about 3.5 million people, and is 10 times more infectious than HIV.

Bob Rice, a former Hepatitis C patient, was diagnosed in 1992, and after several treatments failed, he had to have a liver transplant in 2010.

Rice is now cured of the disease, but he says it was a long, hard path to get there. He's encouraging anyone born between 1945 and 1965 to be tested, because if the disease is caught early, the hepatitis cure rate is about 99 percent.

Rice says he wishes he had known his diagnosis early on.

"Towards the end, I thought I was going to die,” he states. “You know, they told me I needed a liver transplant. They're very hard to get.

“I was one of the lucky ones. I'm here for a reason, and I know that today. And hopefully this is the reason, to try and educate people."

Those at risk include anyone who was exposed to blood or blood products before 1992, or who has had body piercings or tattoos, used IV drugs, or even people who have gotten pedicures or manicures.

Rice says the sports of boxing and rugby also have been described as risks. Hepatitis C can lead to liver disease and cancer and is often fatal.

Dr. Douglas Dieterich, a professor of medicine in the Division of Liver Diseases at Mount Sinai Hospital, stresses everyone should be tested for Hepatitis C, but he says it isn't a screening that's normally offered. So, he encourages people to ask for it, even if they don't have symptoms.

"The most common symptom is no symptom,” he points out. “Most people don't have symptoms until the liver is really almost beyond repair."

The Indiana State Department of Health says more than 30,000 people are diagnosed with Hepatitis C each year, and about 8 in 10 develop chronic infections.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN