Free test could be a life-saver

State, CDC push online assessment

The state of Tennessee is encouraging residents to take part in a free five-minute test that could end up saving your life.

The test is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and assesses your risk for having hepatitis C, a potentially deadly virus that seems to strike baby boomers most.

The CDC says three out of every four hepatitis-related deaths is among "boomers" who contracted the disease earlier in life through blood transfusions, sharing needles or other drug paraphernalia.

The agency says it is critical that all baby boomers check their risk, because millions of them may have it.

There are three kinds of hepatitis, each with different causes and outcomes. Here is how the CDC describes each:

  • Hepatitis A: usually caused by accidental ingestion of fecal matter or from contaminated food and drinks. A vaccination can prevent you from getting hepatitis A.
  • Hepatisis B: usually caused by bodily fluids from unprotected sex or drug paraphernalia. This can lead to liver disease or liver cancer. A Hepatitis-B vaccine prevents the disease.
  • Hepatitis C: usually caused by coming in contact with an infected person's blood, by sharing needles or through a contaminated transfusion. People can have hepatitis C for years and not know it. There is no vaccine and this can lead to liver cancer and cirrhosis of the liver.

To take the online assessment and determine your risk, visit www.cdc.gov/HEPATITIS/riskassessment.

For additional information about hepatitis, visit www.cdc.gov/hepatitis.

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