5.2 million Americans have HCV and only about 1 million know that they are infected. HCV is called the silent epidemic since most patients look normal and fell well. Many of these infected persons are baby boomers born between 1945 and 1965. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US Preventative Services Task Force recommend that all baby boomers should be tested once for HCV. They might have been infected 40 years ago and many will die from liver cancer and liver failure because of delayed diagnosis.
New HCV infections are surging today because of the heroin epidemic. The long term solution for HCV will be vaccination. We have vaccines to prevent hepatitis B and hepatitis A. We need an effective vaccine for HCV. Research for HCV vaccine development is underway.
Vaccination will not help patients who are already infected. The key to a good outcome for these 5.2 million Americans is diagnosis of HCV infection and successful antiviral therapy.