Part of the stigma with HCV relates to high rates in IVDU, but this article sheds light on its genomic origins.....
Canadian researchers have determined the peak of the hepatitis C epidemic in North America occurred about 15 years earlier than previously believed, suggesting it wasn’t youthful indiscretions that put baby boomers at a high risk for the disease.
And that means, say researchers, that all those who belong to the post-Second World War generation should be screened for the potentially deadly infection, which can take up to 50 years to manifest symptoms.
An estimated 300,000 Canadians are infected with hepatitis C, with baby boomers — the generation born between 1946 and 1964 — making up about 75 per cent of cases.
Over time, hepatitis C can severely scar the liver, leading to cirrhosis, and is a known cause of liver cancer as well as liver failure.
It was long thought that boomers who were infected with the blood-borne virus likely contracted the disease in their late teens or early 20s, due to such risky behaviours as IV drug use or sexual experimentation.
But a study by B.C. researchers found the peak of the hepatitis C epidemic occurred about 1950, when many baby boomers were young children, and had plateaued by 1960 — well before the zenith of injection drug use at the end of that decade.
The oldest of the baby boomers were just 5 years old at the peak of the epidemic, the researchers say.
“The spread of hepatitis C in North America occurred at least 15 years earlier than it was suspected before, and if that is the case, the baby boomer epidemic ... cannot be explained by behavioural indiscretions on the part of the baby boomers,” said co-investigator Dr. Julio Montaner, director of the BC Centre of Excellence in HIV/AIDS.