Posted 5:49 PM, Oct 24, 2017
It's a disease that kills more people a year than HIV. Yet, millions of people in the U.S. are living with it and don't know. We're talking about Hepatitis C, and baby boomers are 5 times more likely than any other group to have it.
Stella Armenta just celebrated her birthday.
"Yeah it's going to be a good year," Armenta says.
It's a day she didn't know if she'd be here to see this time last year.
"I started feeling tired and I started to swell a little bit around my belly," Armenta remembers.
Armenta went to the ER trying to find out what was causing these symptoms. And wasn't prepared for her diagnosis.
"I felt like I got hit in the head when they said you got Hepatitis C," Armenta says. "I was like me, how in the world?"
Hepatitis C is a virus that can slowly damage the liver. It's spread by blood to blood contact, like IV drug use and transfusions. And the Centers for Disease Control says 1 in 30 baby boomers has the virus and don't even know it.
"I just thought well I wasn't a drug user. I never was like you know dirty bathrooms and stuff where they say you can get stuff," Armenta says. "I was always just regular mom and working person."
But Armenta had a hysterectomy, and blood transfusion in the 80's. Hep C wasn't discovered until 1989, and donated blood wasn't screened for the virus until 1992.