Mercy's Dr. Anurag Maheshwari Discusses Hepatitis C and Its Treatment
The most common infectious disease in the United States is hepatitis C. Three to 4 million Americans have it and many of them don't know.
The vast majority of hepatitis C patients -- 75 percent -- are Baby Boomers. Now, there's a push to have everyone in that generation tested.
"I was having nausea, tiredness, couldn't hold anything down," patient Angela Felder Johnson said.
When Johnson finally found out what was wrong, she was shocked. She had hepatitis C.
"It wasn't my lifestyle, but it shows you don't have to have a certain lifestyle. It can come to anyone," Johnson said.
"It's been a long-unrecognized illness because screening has not been very efficient," said Dr. Anurag Maheshwari, who specializes in liver disease at The Center for Liver and Hepatobiliary Diseases, part of The Melissa L. Posner Institute for Digestive Health & Liver Disease at Mercy.
According to Dr. Maheshwari, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends screening all Baby Boomers with a simple blood test.
"(The CDC) recommended that we test everybody born in the Baby Boomer generation. That is someone born between 1945 and 1965 regardless of their risk factors or lifestyle choices," Dr. Maheshwari said.
Nowadays, hepatitis C can be completely cured. Patients take just one pill a day for a few months, and there are very few side effects.
"The newer medications have a cure rate that approaches almost 100 percent and they're very short, as few as eight weeks to 12 weeks of therapy for most of the patients, and cure rates are so high that once you're done, it's a once-and-done kind of deal for most of these patients," Dr. Maheshwari explained.
If the disease is caught early, before stage four, damage to the liver can be reversed.
Johnson is cured and is feeling great.
"Perfect, on a scale of one to 10, I was a 25 minus when I first came here. Now, I'm a 25 positive," Johnson said.
View Mercy liver health expert Dr. Anurag Maheshwari’s interview about 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.