Officials with the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently released new guidelines which call for all baby boomers to get tested for Hepatitis C.
The new guidelines highlight the fact that 1 in 30 baby boomers- individuals born between 1945-1965- have hepatitis C and most are unaware that they have it.
The CDC stated that of the nearly 78 million baby boomers, more than 2 million of them are infected. They account for more than three-quarters of all Americans living with the virus that can have debilitating and deadly consequences if not treated properly and in a timely manner.
One of the suggestions put forth by the CDC would have those most at risk undergo a onetime blood test which would help to "identify hundreds of thousands of hidden infections," according to Dr. John Ward, director of the CDC's division of viral hepatitis.
He compared the type of testing that seniors would participate in like that of screening for other age-related illnesses such as prostate cancer, breast cancer, cervical cancer and high cholesterol.
"It's a bold action that's become necessary because there's a large population that's unaware of their illness, becoming ill, and dying in an era of effective treatment," Ward said.
Ward went on to explain that "this cost-effective public health approach can help protect the health of an entire generation of Americans."
Hepatitis C causes serious liver diseases, including liver cancer. It is the fastest-rising cause of cancer-related deaths and is also the leading cause of liver transplants in the United States.
"It's the fastest-growing cause of death in the U.S. and hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver cancer here," Ward said. "Most cancer deaths are going down and this is one of the few that continues to escalate."
Hepatitis C related illnesses are responsible for more than 15,000 deaths in the U.S. each year.