After jumping back and forth about Hepatitis C testing in my previous blog posts here and here, and learning that I DO need to get tested, because I took RhoGAM injections (a blood product) in 1971 and 1974, before they were screened for Hepatitis C starting in 1992, I have done one more about-face and ended up kind of in the middle.
Because blood products such as RhoGAM and Gamma Globulin were not tested for many serious diseases, including Hepatitis C and the HIV virus, it’s reasonable and necessary for baby boomers, especially those with risk factors, to be tested if they have received either of these products, or had a transfusion (and see the other risk factors below).
As a recap, RhoGAM is a blood product injected into mothers with RH-Negative blood, and who give birth to RH-positive children. The injection is given within 72 hours of the birth of the child, to prevent the mother’s body from creating antibodies to the RH factor which is present in the child’s blood. This does nothing to help the child that has just been born, (nor does it need to), but may save the life of the next child to be conceived. Since no one actually knows for sure whether they will have another child, the injection is given to prevent any possibility of these antibodies being generated.
Gamma Globulin was frequently used to treat Mononucleosis, and is also a blood product that was not tested before 1992. In my own case, I also received a Gamma Globulin injection in my early twenties, so I have been exposed more than once.
If, like me, baby boomers forget – or never realized – that they had been exposed, they might NOT get the test, thinking they were safe in the absence of other risk factors. So, even if baby boomers think they are safe, they should be tested anyway, because liver disease is very serious.
Now I have discovered that, instead of having to stay awake at night and worry, I realize that I most likely do not have Hepatitis C, simply because I donated blood more than once since 1992, and if I had tested for ANY serious disease, including Hepatitis C, I would have been notified and banned, probably for life. Given that I haven’t been notified, and haven’t been banned, I think it is reasonable to conclude that I do not have Hepatitis C or other serious blood disease. BUT…it’s still a good idea to be tested specifically for Hepatitis C, just to be safe.
I just won’t be pacing the floor worrying over it, like I previously was when I learned I had been exposed due to the RhoGAM injections.
(Just in case you wondered, it is absolutely forbidden for a person to attempt a blood transfusion with the intent of being tested for Hepatitis C, HIV, or any other disease. See your medical professional for proper testing, because if you did indeed have one of these diseases and the testing produced a false negative, you could spread disease far and wide before the mistake had been caught. Please be responsible!)
Just to wrap up, I’d like to mention one more time the risk factors for Hepatitis C, just in case you forgot or never knew. From http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hepatitis-c/ds00097/dsection=risk-factors
Your risk of hepatitis C infection is increased if you:
- Are a health care worker who has been exposed to infected blood
- Have ever injected illicit drugs
- Have HIV
- Received a piercing or tattoo in an unclean environment using unsterile equipment
- Received a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992
- Received clotting factor concentrates before 1987
- Received hemodialysis treatments for a long period of time
- Were born to a woman with a hepatitis C infection
And now you can add to that: If you are a Baby Boomer. Take heed, folks. Get tested if you have a risk factor.
(Nothing in this post is intended to be medical advice. Please contact your medical practitioner to determine whether ANY of this information applies to you.)