Mercy’s Dr. Paul Thuluvath Discusses Importance Of Hepatitis C Screenings
It's a disease linked to drug use and tattoo needles, but Hepatitis C is also transmitted through infected blood and blood products.
Until 1992, such products were not screened for the virus making one age group in particular -- baby boomers -- at a higher risk for contracting Hepatitis C.
About eight years ago, Bettie Durant experienced swelling in her legs. After undergoing a series of tests, she was shocked to learn she had Hepatitis C.
"I was at a loss and kind of scared, because as far as I knew, there was no cure," Durant said.
According to Dr. Paul Thuluvath, Medical Director for The Institute for Digestive Health & Liver Disease at Mercy, Durant's age group has a higher risk compared to other generations of contracting the disease.
"The truth is, if you were to screen everyone in this country born between 1945 and 1965, we will identify 80 percent of the population with Hepatitis C," Dr. Thuluvath said. "Currently only half the people or less than half the people are identified, so more than half live without knowing they have Hepatitis C."
That's because the disease progresses slowly, often without symptoms. Dr. Thuluvath, who has authored a book on the issue of Hepatitis C, noted that the Centers for Disease Control now recommend baby boomers get tested for Hepatitis c.
"So I think it's extremely important to know it early and treat it early so we can prevent all the complications, including cancer of the liver," Dr. Thuluvath said.
Many Hep-C patients can now be cured. That was the case for Durant, who is now considered cured.
"I can't even tell you how relieved and how happy I was and how thankful I was (too)," Durant said.
View Dr. Thuluvath’s interview regarding screening for Hepatitis C, and learn more about Dr. Thuluvath’s new book regarding Hepatitis C.
Founded in 1874 in downtown Baltimore by the Sisters of Mercy, Mercy Medical Center is a 183-licensed bed acute care university-affiliated teaching hospital. Mercy has been recognized as a top Maryland hospital by U.S. News & World Report; a Top 100 hospital for Women’s Health & Orthopedics by Healthgrades; is currently A-rated for Hospital Safety (Leapfrog Group), and is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Magnet Hospital. Mercy Medical Center is part of Mercy Health Services (MHS), the parent of Mercy’s primary care and specialty care physician enterprise, known as Mercy Personal Physicians, which employs more than 200 providers with locations in Baltimore, Lutherville, Overlea, Glen Burnie, Columbia and Reisterstown. For more information about Mercy, visit www.mdmercy.com, MDMercyMedia on Facebook, Twitter, or call 1-800-MD-Mercy.
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