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Calling all baby boomers, are the whites of your eyes yellow?

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In the 90's when someone turned yellow, stayed in bed for weeks, but did not test positive for Hepatitis A or B, you were told you had Non A or Non B Hepatitis. No big hope of recovery.

Enter Lois Trader 1993, with the world’s most rundown body, serious depression, pleurisy, and a collapsed stomach—I had been diagnosed with liver disease. The disease was horrific, and so was the treatment proposed to me. In 1993-94 I had been given the great honor and privilege of being selected to be what every woman dreams about. To be on the cover of a fashion magazine? No. To be honored for great achievements for my work in the inner city? No. For the seminars I had done in honor of women’s causes? No. To be a human guinea pig for UCI Liver Research Department? That’s it!

Told that there was only a slim chance of recovery, I had been selected to be one of 370 patients in the United States to try an experimental drug therapy program for liver disease: Interferon alfa-2A.. My odds, I was told: a 50% chance of survival after 10 years with treatment, and less without. They chose me because I was “young and a woman.” Flattering? Hardly. In fact, it was downright shocking. Sadly, at 37 years of age, too sick to walk up the stairs in my home—not to mention being faced with the prospect of not being there for my three daughters and my husband—I gave in to despair. In addition, the information the doctors gave me detailing the side effects of the experimental dosages were even more frightening than the disease itself.

After much thought, and with no other good options, I agreed to the treatment. I had nothing to lose and a lot to live for. For the next six months I found different areas in my home to lie in for hours upon hours, basically comatose. My three beautiful daughters and my unshakable husband and partner for life would see nothing more than a limp, lifeless, yellow body—except, of course, for my bouts of anger, depression, and nausea.

After all that, I awoke in March of 1994 completely well! Truly a miracle. No medications, no relapse, a clean bill of health. If you have watched “Touched by an Angel,” you know that miracles usually require some action on the part of the human. My miracle was aided by injecting a massive dose of not-yet-FDA-approved drugs directly into my own thigh every other day. Many times I wanted to inject the medicine into someone else’s thigh. And just as often I simply wanted to poke somebody else with the needle.

With that story, I sometimes think I didn't get enough credit, thanks, applause, money, fame, or so much as a hallmark card for laying my life down so others, to include myself, could have a chance of a FDA approved drug for the treatment of Hepatitis C.

2014 - According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ≈75% of adults with hepatitis C were born between 1945 and 1965 (Baby Boomers). I was born in 1956. Many people with chronic hepatitis C do not know they have the disease. The hepatitis C virus attacks the liver and may lead to liver damage, liver failure, cirrhosis, and liver cancer.

Chronic Hepatitis C is approximately 3× more common than HIV. Do you have it?

Some risk factors for the baby boomer in you. The CDC recommends that anyone born between 1945 and 1965 (Baby Boomers) get tested for hepatitis C.

Other risk factors include:

  • Injecting drugs—even once
  • Snorting drugs (due to infected blood on a shared straw or bill)
  • Receiving donated blood, blood products, or organs, especially before 1992
  • Receiving blood products made before 1987 for clotting problems
  • HIV infection
  • Past or present dialysis patient
  • A job where you are exposed to blood, such as a healthcare worker
  • Being born to a mother with hepatitis C
  • Abnormal liver tests
  • Unprotected sex, especially with multiple partners
  • Tattoos or body piercings (due to contaminated equipment)
  • Sharing razors or toothbrushes

Some people have chronic hepatitis C for a long time, but have no symptoms. However, it is important to know that the disease can still get worse.

If you do have symptoms, they may consist of:

  • Dark urine
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyeballs)

So have you been tested? Even if you have one risk factor, symptoms or not, talk to your healthcare provider about the latest changes in the treatment of chronic Hepatitis C.

Thanks to the good people, like Lois Trader (thank you thank you, or stop it, thank you, enough) there are treatments that are working to possible cure, stop, or keep you from getting any worse.

For more information about Hepatitis C - you can visit: Mayo Clinic

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