generation was the primary age group impacted by hepatitis C.
The new study, published by the CDC, revealed how younger adults—including millennials (those born from 1981 to 1996) –are being impacted by hepatitis C in numbers equivalent to baby boomers. Generation X (born from 1966 to 1980) was also found to have a growing number of people with hepatitis C.
These higher rates of hep C in the younger generations are boosting the number of babies born with hepatitis C because the disease can be transmitted to a fetus or infant before or after childbirth.
The 2020 study looked at age groups of those with hepatitis C in 2018. The new statistics revealed:
- Millennials (adults in their 20s and 30s) comprised 36.5% of newly reported chronic (long-term) hepatitis C infections.
- Baby boomers (adults in their mid-50s to early 70s) comprised 36.3% of newly reported chronic hepatitis C infections.
- Generation X (adults in their late 30s to early 50s) comprised 23.1% of newly reported chronic hepatitis C infections.
Why Are Younger Generations Now at Risk?
The risk of hepatitis C in those under 30 years of age is higher among those who use injectable drugs than youth and younger adults who do not inject drugs. Other risk factors for hep C include:
- Sharing nonsterile tattoo ink or needles
- Body piercings
- Sharing needles
- Sharing bloody personal care items (such as razors or toothbrushes)
- Work-related needle sticks (for professionals such as health care providers)
Those at high risk for hepatitis C at any age include those who:
- Received a blood transfusion before 1992
- Received blood products (such as for clotting problems) before 1987
- Receive kidney dialysis
- Have a history of IV drug use
- Have what is considered high-risk sex (such as with multiple partners)
- Reside with a person with Hepatitis C
- Care for a person with Hepatitis C
- Were born between the years of 1945 and 1965
- Shared tools to snort cocaine
- Were born to a mother diagnosed with hepatitis C
New CDC Recommendations for Hep C Screening
“The hepatitis C epidemic has changed, and so should the nation’s testing guidelines; the CDC wants all of us to get tested and get cured.” Jonathan Mermin, MD, MPH, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention says.
As new study data are released, the CDC is stepping up to change screening recommendations, including:
- Adults 18 and older should all have a one-time screening
- All women should have a screening during pregnancy
- Those with a history of high-risk factors as well as ongoing high-risk factors should have regular screenings