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The hidden epidemic: baby boomers beware

Baby boomers and Hepatitis C. What you need to know.

COLUMBIA (WACH) --- Lamont Adams is a counselor at the South Carolina HIV/AIDS Council.

"It's a ministry for me. I get to work with people," says Lamont Adams.

Working with people with a variety of health concerns is something he understands very well.

Adams had Hepatitis C.

"I contacted mine back in the 60's 70's while in the military," says Adams.

Hepatitis C is a virus that infects the liver.

"Cirrhosis is where the liver cells start getting damaged. The areas within the liver starts getting fibroids the liver starts shrinking. Because of that what happens is the liver enzymes go up. Some of the blood clotting factors may get worse," says Adams.

But that's not all.

"Hepatitis C has now been linked to cancers, including lymphoma, linked to strokes. It's been linked to kidney disease," says Dr. Divya Ahuja, Palmetto Health Richland.

Doctors say Adams is the perfect example of someone who needed to be checked for Hep C.

Why? He is a baby boomer.

That’s anyone born between 1945- 1965

Many of them could have been infected because some health standards were not as controlled back than like it is today.

Here are some risk factors:

- Baby boomer

- Blood transfusion or kidney dialysis before 1992

- Shared a needle with someone

- Got a tattoo or body piercing with an unsterilized needle

- Exposure to traces of infected blood –

- Unprotected sex.

Hep C can kill you.

But don't worry there is finally a cure for it.

"The current standard of care in May 2017 is to give one pill a day for 12 weeks. In some cases 8 weeks in some cases 24 weeks depending on a few factors," says Dr. Ahuja.

But treatment could also cost you a pretty penny.

"Some of these drugs when they came out they were priced at over $1,100 for one pill. Now those prices have gone down," says Dr. Ahuja.

According to the South Carolina HIV/AIDS Council there are almost 85,000 South Carolinians living with chronic Hepatitis C.

South Carolina ranks 19th in HC related deaths.

In 2015 there were 415 cases in Richland County and nearly 200 cases in Lexington County.

As for Adams he says he's living proof the treatment worked.

“If my telling you this story will have someone come to the agency get tested and screen for Hep C and treated for it than my efforts will not be in vain,” says Adams.

You can visit the SC HIV/AIDs Council for more information and sign up for testing.

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