It might have seemed like a good idea at the time, but
those intravenous drugs that some baby boomers played around
with in the '60s and '70s could come back to haunt them.
According to an article in the Seattle Times, more and
more people are discovering that they have hepatitis C. In
some cases, they got the disease from shared needles. In other
cases, blood transfusions are the culprit. In still other
cases, the cause is unknown. But researchers say hepatitis C
can lurk for decades, only to show up in the form of liver
disease much later.
Hepatitis C can kill you, but usually it doesn't. It is
often discovered during a routine check up and blood test.
Sometimes, it shows up as the cause of chronic fatigue. But
symptoms often don't show up until the liver has lost more
than 60 percent of its functioning, the article says. About
12,000 Americans die of hepatitis C each year, according to
figures from the American Liver Foundation. Scientists are trying to find a vaccine to prevent it, and
they say treatments are improving.
Researchers say there is a lot more work that must be done
relating to hepatitis C. They are not sure, for example, why
it becomes a chronic condition in some patients and not in
others. They also are looking into whether the damage is
caused by the virus itself or by the body's immune system
responding to it, the article says.