Hepatitis C is a serious liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). The most common way to get hepatitis C is by coming into contact with the blood of someone who has it. It’s important for certain people to get tested for the hepatitis C virus.
Vietnam Era Veterans and those born between 1945 and 1965 are at higher risk for hepatitis C. Talking to a healthcare provider about testing is highly recommended for anyone at risk.VA has this testing available for at risk Veterans.
This spring, VA began treatment for its 100,000th Veteran with hepatitis C.
Outside of VA, this is considered “Covered Prevention Services for Adults”meaning that many insurance plans provide 100 percent coverage for preventive care, but require you to use an in-network provider.
Hepatitis C screening is covered for adults at increased risk and one-time screening for people born between 1945 and 1965.
Nationwide, VA leads the country in HCV screening, testing, treatment, research and prevention. Facilities across VA are implementing innovative strategies to increase testing. Veterans can receive hepatitis C testing at VA if they are enrolled in VA care. You may be able to get tested in or outside the VA networkat no cost to you.
Three common types of specialists that you may be referred to for hepatitis C testing are gastroenterologists, hepatologists, and infectious disease specialists.
A gastroenterologist treats diseases of the digestive system, including the liver. A hepatologist treats diseases of the liver, including hepatitis C. An infectious disease specialist treats diseases that are spread from many sources, including those from person to person, like hepatitis C and HIV (human immunodeficiency syndrome).
Many people who have hepatitis C can live for years without feeling sick. But the virus can still damage the liver, even when there aren’t any symptoms. You could also spread the virus to others without knowing it. The only way to know for sure if you have hepatitis C is to get a blood test.
Hepatitis C testing is the key to living a longer, healthier life. Take action and talk to your healthcare provider to find out if you are a candidate.
About the author: Megan Jones is the Communications Specialist with VA Patient Care Services.