Hepatitis C is one of today’s deadliest diseases. CDC says it is a virus that usually spreads when blood from an infected person enters another person’s bloodstream. What’s alarming is the number of African Americans who are actually infected but doesn’t have any idea they are.
Known as a silent killer, Hepatitis C usually does not show any symptoms while attacking a person’s liver causing inflammation and scarring. Eventually, it may result in more serious health problems such as liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.
According to the Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975-2014, African Americans ages 50 to 64 or those who were born from 1955 to 1965 had higher rates of liver cancer than other minority groups. Additionally, more African American men die from liver cancer at an earlier age of 60 to 61 compared to other races.
Overall, approximately 3.5 million Americans have Hepatitis C but at least 50 percent of those do not know that they are infected. About 75 to 85 percent of people living with Hepatitis C develop a life-long chronic infection.
We still can do something to fight it. Early detection through blood testing can be helpful to know if one has Hepatitis C and treat it. The US Preventive Services Task Force suggests that all races should undergo one-time Hepatitis C tests especially to those who were born from 1945 to 1965.
There are new treatments with few side effects that can help cure 90% of those who have Hepatitis C as long as therapy is completed. If diagnosed early, most persons infected with Hepatitis C can be cured within 8 to 12 weeks, reducing liver cancer risk by 75%.