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Johns Hopkins Health - A Test Worth Taking

Summer 2016
Issue No. 33

A Test Worth Taking

Date: July 7, 2016

hep c

As many as 5 million Americans are infected with the hepatitis C virus, or HCV, and more than three-quarters of them are baby boomers. Mark Sulkowski, M.D., director of the Viral Hepatitis Center at Johns Hopkins, tackles four myths swirling around HCV.

Myth: HCV isn’t a big deal.

Truth: HCV is a chronic infection of the liver that causes scarring. Left untreated, it can lead to liver damage, cirrhosis and liver cancer. HCV kills more Americans each year than any other infectious disease.

Myth: I didn’t use IV drugs, so I’m good.

Truth: The blood supply wasn’t screened for HCV until after July 1992, so anyone who received a transfusion prior is at risk. Plus, many can’t ID how or when they were exposed.

Myth: I’d know if I had HCV.

Truth: Many times, HCV causes only subtle fatigue—or no symptoms. It’s recommended that all baby boomers get screened.

Myth: HCV treatments are challenging and largely ineffective.

Truth: Years ago, treatment meant a year of injections and a 40 percent cure rate. Today, new HCV treatments are both simple and effective: All require taking pills daily for 8 or 12 weeks, with a cure rate of 95 percent.


Johns Hopkins hepatitis C expert Mark Sulkowski, M.D., has a message for baby boomers: “If you haven’t been tested for hep C, it’s time. And if you are diagnosed and have not been treated, it’s time.”

Learn about the new treatment options from our recent online seminar.

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