(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that baby boomers--Americans born between 1945 and 1965-- get tested for Hepatitis C, Health Day reports.
The agency said that most cases of the disease occur in this age group, and most were infected with it during their teens and 20s, and don't know they are infected. Baby boomers reportedly have a rate of infection five times higher than others because the cause of hepatitis C was only discovered in 1989, years after they were young adults.
In 2007, 15,000 people died from the virus, according to CDC data.
If hepatitis C is not detected and treated, it could potentially cause cirrhosis of the liver or liver cancer.
The number of new hepatitis C infections has declined from several hundred thousand per year to around 17,000, which is attributed to public education and improved infection control in hospitals.
The CDC said it's thought that 800,000 people living with hepatitis C could be identified and over 120,000 hepatitis C-related deaths prevented by targeting baby boomers, according to Health Day.
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