Despite being at high risk for hepatitis C virus (HCV), baby boomers—those born between 1945 and 1965—are often unaware they should be tested for the virus, Reuters Health reports. Publishing their findings in the Journal of Emergency Medicine, researchers gave 81 individuals at a New York City emergency room a survey about hep C.

Twenty-nine percent of the respondents knew that the hep C rate is higher among baby boomers than in other generations. The majority knew that the virus can lead to liver failure and is transmittable through sex and blood transfusions. Most of them also incorrectly believed that hep C can spread through kissing or shaking hands.

Seventeen percent correctly stated that there is no vaccine for hep C.

Fifty-one percent knew that the virus is curable, while 77 percent were aware that there have been recent advances in hep C drugs that make treating the disease easier.

The study is limited by its small sample size and the fact that not all respondents answered every question in the survey. Also, the majority of respondents were not born in the United States, 69 percent had a high school diploma or less and 37 percent were unemployed. So the group may not be representative of the general population.

To read the study abstract, click here.

To read the Reuters Health article, click here (free registration with Medscape is required).