VA Connecticut Healthcare System
Hepatitis C May Surprise You
Monday, May 1, 2017Veterans have unusually high rates of hepatitis C, especially Veterans born between 1945 and 1965. Hepatitis C is a disease of the liver caused by a virus; it is generally spread through blood-to-blood contact. The disease begins with the swelling of the liver and can progress to liver damage such as cirrhosis and liver cancer if untreated.
Hepatitis C can persist for 10 to 30 years before there are any clear symptoms, which is why most people with chronic hepatitis C are unaware they are infected. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C, but effective treatments are now available. A blood test is the only way to diagnose a hepatitis C infection.
Veterans with any of the following risks should be tested for hepatitis C:
- Anyone born during 1945-1965,
- Anyone with liver disease or who has had abnormal liver tests,
- Anyone who has ever injected illegal drugs,
- Anyone who had a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992,
- Anyone who received a tattoo or body piercing in a non-regulated setting, and
- Anyone with HIV or a weakened immune system.
Talk to your VA health care provider about testing and treatment. VA is the largest single provider of hepatitis care in the United States.
For more information about hepatitis, please visit www.hepatitis.va.gov.