Hepatitis C and Baby Boomers: At a Glance
- Hepatitis C is the most common bloodborne illness in the U.S., affecting an estimated 2.7 million to 3.9 million people.
- The baby boomer generation represents approximately 75% of HCV cases in the U.S.
- One in 30 baby boomers is positive for hepatitis C.
How Hepatitis C is TransmittedHepatitis C is contracted through infected blood. It’s not clear why baby boomers are disproportionately affected by this virus, but it’s estimated that many acquired HCV during the 1970s or 1980s when hepatitis C was most common. Hepatitis C can go undiagnosed for decades making it difficult to pinpoint when or how the virus was contracted. The most common means of transmission include the following:
- Current or past intravenous drug use or from blood transfusions.
- Organ transplants or blood transfusions prior to routine screening of blood supply and organ donors in 1992.
- Sharing contaminated personal items, such as razors or toothbrushes.
- Vaginal or anal sexual intercourse, particularly sex that involves trauma, i.e. rough sex, rape or sexual abuse. (Oral transmission has not been documented.)
- Neonatal transmission from an infected mother to her child.