Baby boomers especially at risk
The Putnam County Department of Health (PCDOH) is offering a full day of free hepatitis C testing on National Hepatitis Testing Day, Tuesday, May 19, for all New York state baby boomers. Testing starts at 10 a.m. and runs to 7 p.m. at the main health department office at 1 Geneva Road in Brewster. No appointment is necessary. The generation born from 1945 to 1965 is at particular risk, and U.S. health officials encourage everyone in this age category to take this one-time test, regardless of any specific risk.
While chronic hepatitis C infection goes undetected, liver damage can still occur — with serious long-term consequences such as liver failure, cirrhosis or cancer. Baby boomers are at higher risk because the infection is transmitted through infected blood, and comprehensive blood screening was not available until 1992. Most boomers are believed to have become infected in the 1970s and 1980s when rates of hepatitis C were the highest. Viral hepatitis is a leading infectious cause of death in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The good news is that hepatitis C can be treated with several medications, and some of the newer ones have fewer side effects.
Residents who can’t make the free testing day on May 19 can call the health department at 845-808-1390 for information about other free testing opportunities.