Hep C testing among baby boomers needs to improve to reduce sharps injury risk

Friday March 10 2017

Members of the baby boomer generation could be putting the health of their loved ones, as well as that of healthcare workers they come into contact with, at risk due to their apparent unwillingness to get tested for hepatitis C.

According to new research carried out in the US and published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, just 13.8 per cent of so-called baby boomers have undergone hepatitis C testing, despite their risk of having the virus being much higher than that of subsequent generations.

Although the new figures show that there has been a slight increase in the number of people getting tested for hepatitis C in recent years, as just 12.3 per cent of baby boomers had been tested for the disease in 2013, many could still be carrying it and spreading it unwittingly.

The report authors wrote: "These findings underscore the need for increased awareness for hepatitis C virus testing among healthcare providers and baby boomers, and other innovative strategies such as state-mandated hepatitis C finding."

Not only can the virus be transmitted via sexual intercourse, but it can also be spread from person to person in a medical environment should a needlestick injury occur, consequently exposing the bloodstream to potentially harmful bacteria.

Therefore, US healthcare workers who need to administer injections to patients of this generation may wish to exercise extra care due to their potential higher risk of hepatitis C. 

This should involve following correct sharps safety procedures, as well as using specialist needle safety devices where possible to further reduce the risk of a needle injury occurring. These devices work by preventing a needle from being used more than once or from puncturing the skin if it is already broken.

http://www.webmd.com/hepatitis/news/20170308/baby-boomers-get-an-f-for-hep-c-testing

Image credit: thodonal via iStock