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Those advances are fueling CDC deliberations of whether to change testing guidelines to recommend that anyone born between 1945 and 1965 get a one-time screening. A second CDC-funded study published Monday analyzed models of that option, and concluded it had the potential to save 82,000 lives.
A third study published Monday from Stanford University looked more closely at the price tag, and concluded the new triple-therapy would be cost-effective for people with advanced disease. It's still cheaper than a transplant costing well over $100,000. But not everyone with hepatitis C will go on to suffer serious liver damage. For those with mild disease, that analysis concluded some gene testing to predict who might really need the costlier triple therapy rather than the older drugs would be a good next step.
It's not clear how quickly the CDC will settle the boomer-screening question. But doctors at New York's Montefiore Medical Center have started raising the issue with boomers. And Montefiore internist Dr. Gary Rogg says a number of patients have sought testing after seeing hepatitis-awareness ads from the drugs' manufacturers.
"Now it's considered a curable disease, that makes all the difference," says Rogg, who was surprised at some longtime patients' test results. Even a nurse he knows learned she had it, and the only risk she could recall was a blood transfusion during surgery when she was 10 years old.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Montefiore Medical Center: http://bit.ly/u6scH0
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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