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Letters: A fresh look at hepatitis C

May 06, 2012

Re "Hepatitis a new worry for baby boomers," May 2

In the late 1960s I was a Peace Corps volunteer teaching school in Uganda. I became ill and required blood transfusions.

Fast forward 30 years and I'm donating my own blood for surgery. Imagine my surprise when the Red Cross informed me that I had hepatitis C, something I had never heard of. I had contracted it from those long-ago transfusions. Once my initial panic subsided, I was fortunate to find an excellent heptologist who eventually persuaded me to undergo treatment. It was a difficult process, but I have been free of the virus for five years.

My advice to those similarly infected: Get treatment. It's far better than the alternative.

Norma Stewart

Arcadia

An estimated 75% of hepatitis C-infected individuals are baby boomers. Now in the prime of their lives they realize that choices made about snorting cocaine or injecting drugs have damaged their livers and threatened their lives. Lack of education decades ago about the important role the liver plays in one's ability to stay alive failed to alert individuals about liver-related preventable diseases such as alcoholism, diabetes and especially hepatitis viruses.

The recent increase in hepatitis C in young adults highlights our failure to promote prevention of liver-related diseases in schools.

How can children make healthful lifestyle choices when they lack information about why and how to avoid liver-damaging activities? Liver health education can save lives and prevent liver-related diseases.

Thelma King Thiel

Silver Spring, Md.

The writer is chairwoman of Hepatitis Foundation International.

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