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Updated Jul 17, 2014 - 10:55 am

Doctor urges baby boomers to get tested for Hepatitis C

PHOENIX -- A Tucson doctor says baby boomers should get their blood checked.

That's because they're more at risk for the Hepatitis C virus.

"The incidence of Hepatitis C in the U.S. population is about 1 percent, but in the baby boomer population, it's about 5 percent," said Dr. Thomas Boyer of the University of Arizona.

And he said the baby boomers' past behaviors may be to blame.

"In the 1960s and 70s, there was a lot of use of injection drugs among this group of individuals," Boyer explained. "In addition, the blood supply contained Hepatitis C, so individuals receiving blood transfusions during those times were also at increased risk."

Boyer said that checking someone's blood for the virus is easy -- and getting easier.

"We're actually establishing a free screening program here in Tucson," said Boyer. "It involves a finger stick. Twenty minutes later, we tell them whether they do or do not have the antibody for the Hepatitis C virus."

The program is held at a clinic that will be open on Friday mornings from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., starting July 18. Minimal registration is involved. Those interested can call 1-520-621-HEPC (4372) to make an appointment or get more information.

Boyer said that a person's own doctor can also draw blood to test for Hepatitis C. He added that blood donors, however, probably don't need to get checked, because their blood would have been tested the last time that they made a donation.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I am married to my wife Rene', who is a librarian in the Washington school district. During free time, I may be found playing basketball in the driveway with my son, Devin. He's also keeping me busy with school, Little League, and playing in chess tournaments around the Valley.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: Doug Oldham gospel concert in the 1970s at the old East High School in Phoenix.

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Northern Hills Community Church in Phoenix. We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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