Hepatitis C is a liver disease that results from infection with the hepatitis C virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness. Hepatitis C is spread when blood from a person infected with the hepatitis C virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. Most people become infected with the hepatitis C virus by sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs. People have also become infected with the hepatitis C virus from body piercing or tattoos that were done in prisons, homes, or in other unlicensed or informal facilities. In rare cases, hepatitis C may be sexually transmitted. Babies born to mothers with hepatitis C can get infected during childbirth.
In 2012, CDC started recommending hepatitis C testing for everyone born from 1945 – 1965. While anyone can get hepatitis C, up to 75% of adults infected with hepatitis C were born from 1945 – 1965. The reason that baby boomers have high rates of hepatitis C is not completely understood. Most boomers are believed to have become infected in the 1970s and 1980s when rates of hepatitis C were the highest. Before 1992, when widespread screening of the blood supply began in the United States, hepatitis C was also commonly spread through blood transfusions and organ transplants.