If you were struck by a big-rig driver on I-70, you would likely insist that the trucker undergo a blood test to make sure he wasn’t under the influence during the crash. But health advocates now suggest that blood testing truckers—even those who are driving sober—could prevent even more lives lost.
Truck Drivers at High Risk for Hepatitis C
New research suggests that testing truck drivers for hepatitis C could prevent an onset of symptoms that causes a crash. The disease carries a wide range of symptoms and can cause deadly complications—especially in the case of those who drive for a living. Truckers in particular are 9 times more likely to contract hepatitis C than members of the general public, for a combination of reasons:
- Demographics. The most at-risk demographic for hepatitis C is men between the ages of 50 and 65. Most truck drivers in America are male with an average age of 55, making them a likely group for infection.
- Tattoos. Truck drivers are more likely to get tattoos, giving them an additional risk of infection from unsterilized equipment. If a trucker got a tattoo in the 1970s or 1980s, his risk of infection is even greater.
- Health problems. Many drivers have health conditions, leading to increased risk of infection from a hospital stay. Truckers who have received a blood transfusion may also have contracted the disease in their youth.
- Drug use. Many truckers turn to illegal drug use to combat long hours behind the wheel. Hepatitis C is commonly spread through injection drug use or by sharing straws to snort cocaine or other drugs.
Why Should Truckers Submit to a Hepatitis C Blood Test?
Most cases of hepatitis C take up to 10 years to show symptoms. As a result, as many as 75 percent of people who have the hepatitis C virus have no idea they are infected, causing the condition to progress into a deadly liver disease. A simple blood test can not only prevent a driver from suffering cirrhosis or liver cancer, it can also prevent chronic fatigue, nausea, stomach problems, and chronic muscle pain that can contribute to a semi-truck crash.
Want to help protect all the drivers in your life? Share this article on Facebook or Google+ to raise awareness. You could save a stranger’s life, or even the life of someone in your family by encouraging someone to get tested today!