VA has cured 100,000 Veterans of Hepatitis C

New drugs and outreach campaign helped VA to rapidly deploy and treat Veterans


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VA has reached a significant milestone in curing more than 100,000 Veterans of chronic hepatitis C virus infection (HCV), establishing VA as a global leader in the diagnosis and treatment of HCV.

HCV infection can lead to advanced liver disease (ALD), liver cancer and early death. Curing HCV can prevent the development or progression of ALD, cutting death rates by up to 50%. Until recently, HCV treatment required medications to be taken daily by mouth and weekly by injection for up to a year, with cure rates as low as 35%. Additionally, this treatment had disabling medical and psychiatric side effects, which caused over half of patients to stop treatment prematurely.

“These efforts have been nothing short of life-saving for tens of thousands of Veterans, and that’s precisely why VA has made diagnosing, treating and curing hepatitis C virus infection such a priority,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie.

In early 2014, highly effective, less toxic, all-oral, direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) became available for HCV treatment. These new drugs have few and less severe side effects and can be given as one pill a day for as little as eight weeks, revolutionizing HCV treatment. VA adopted use of these new medications within days of FDA approval.

Through Veteran advocacy, VA leadership and the support of Congress, VA implemented an aggressive program to treat Veterans with HCV who were both willing and able to be treated. This included extensive outreach to all Veterans in VA known to have HCV infection, and increased testing of those at highest risk for HCV. At the end of 2018, almost 85% of Veterans at increased risk for HCV had been tested, compared to 50% for the general U.S. population.

At the peak of this effort to rapidly deploy DAAs, VA was starting a Veteran on HCV treatment every 72 seconds on a typical work day; a rate of almost 2,000 new treatments each week. Currently, fewer than 25,000 Veterans in VA care remain to be treated. Because of this historic effort, Veterans cured of HCV are estimated to be 72% less likely to develop liver cancer.

For more information, visit www.hepatitis.va.gov.

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Comments

  1. Debbie tucker    

    Compensation is nothing compared to the life of my husband. Praise God for advances in medicine!

  2. William G Hays    

    The VA flat out REFUSED to help me when my HCV went active. They still to this day deny my claims. How is one supposed to feel his country is taking care of the issues received with military service?

  3. John Davis    

    I got Hep C from the pneumatic inoculation devices when I first went through the MEPS station in 1979. All of the personnel coming into the service were lined up, being inoculated by several devices which used pressurized air to inject the different serums into our arms. Many of us had blood dripping from the inoculation site yet we continued to the next pneumatic gun, which just infected those of us standing behind whomever was infected with a blood born illness.
    I first learned of an issue in 86 after donating blood at church. in 89, I was diagnosed with non A-non B Hepatitis, around 91 they called it Hep C, started my first round of interferon around 92 with some success. Did my last round of Interferon and Ribaviron in 2005, the treatments themselves almost killed me but, that’s another story I wont go into here. Ultimately, I’ve been cured though at great cost. Needless to say, my military career took a big hit from all of this and of course my overall health did as well, I was lucky though. The military payed for my treatments because I stayed active duty and retired. Many others though didn’t stay in. Many others never knew they had anything wrong until it was too late.
    I guess the point I’m making and am concerned with is I’ve never heard, “how many of us are there who were infected by the military”? How is it that the air gun pneumatic inoculation devices usage, and the resulting spreading of this illness, and others, has never been officially acknowledged by DOD? How is it that the men and women, and their families who suffered and/or died as a result have never been acknowledged and compensated for what DOD did to us? How does a guy (especially a Vietnam era vet) who served 3-4 years and got out, is then diagnosed with Hep C, establish a service connection to their illness so many years later when DOD still denies culpability?
    I’m glad the VA has helped so many and will continue to cure my fellow veterans but, I just can’t help but think too many others, and their families are still left out in the cold with no answers. God Bless you all and good luck….jd

  4. LCDR. Sam R. Curcio, Jr. USN-RET    

    In 2014, I visited VA Hospital American Lake at 3 separate visits that year to avail myself of Harvoni at end of 2015 (October 6 to December 28 2015… 12 week course of treatment with Rebitol).
    I had contracted HEP-C thru blood transfusion at Naval Regional Medical Center in September-October, 1976. For almost 30 years no noticeable symptoms until 1998. In 1999-2000, I was given a course of interferon and Rebitol (which did nothing). All these years, I was at 0% disability with VA. After a year going thru process for compensation, Congressman Adam Smith intervened and I received 30% disability in 2 weeks in 2000. A person, with no previous course of treatment with interferon, had no Rebitol and only 8 weeks of Harvoni. I call this drug a poison… It killed the Hep-c virus and tried to kill me. In 2015, I had CDEF which has killed. I had to be treated at MAMC – Madigan Army Medical Center with 14 days of antibiotics (the VA would not treat me). A few months later, I had another infection which required 5 days of antibiotic (again treated at MAMC) All of 2016, I had anemia from the Rebitol. I am currently at 40% disability for other issues.

    LCDR. Samuel R. Curcio, Jr. USN-RET

  5. RICHARD CRAMBLITT    

    god bless the VA .in baltimore i would not be here if not for them they beat the hep C and i had liver cancer and we beat that six months cancer free god bless.

  6. John Shepard    

    I have fought since 1995, I have done it all even Liver cancer, lost half my liver which I have a scare that covers from chest to all the stomach. Not until I went overseas in 2015 was I given the new treatment. Every 6 months I do blood work up to ensure no trace. But now I suffer from the botched operation I say bcuz the surgery site is so sore, operation was 2015

  7. Calvin Winchell    

    I took their poison of interferon and ribovirin every day for 48 weeks after being advised that it was completely safe? It has laid waste to my body with diabetes, high blood pressure, and brain fog… then i came down with mysterious arthritis all over my body… then removed my thyroid NOT SAFE. Thank you to the Army and their complete misuse of jet guns i have had the quality of my life permanently altered… now dealing with BVA after denial after denial since 2015… this article is good news but insulting at the same time….

    1. Calvin Winchell    

      Oh ya, even though the viral load is now within normal limits i have fatty liver… this treatment helps but to claim all are cured is a misstatement and simply not true! Keep moving in the right direction but STOP throwing away us veterans away who took interferon & riboviron in 2000 or earlier when you simply didnt know what you were doing…we were infected since 1972 and damage done… we stood up for you now its time you stand up for us…

  8. Timothy Eagan11    

    How about being told for 20+ years that you have Hep-C then told that you Don’t have Hep-C. ?
    No offer of any kind of why all of a sudden like that am I negative.
    Liver profiles still come back hinky and have had no treatment.
    Red Cross says that I have it…

  9. Karen Lynn Fair    

    I was treated at the VA the old way with daily drugs and weekly injections. In 8 weeks I was cured. I had a few side effects during tx but nothing that stopped me from completing my tx. I applaud the VA for the tx and care I received.

  10. John C. Stewart    

    Interesting, does the VA care to explain why they tested me for Hep C without notifying me or getting my permission to do so?

  11. Danny P. Doeden    

    I do not have hep c now. I have been contacted by the VA to give my consent to possibly get a kidney infected with hep c, since a cure is available, now, and I can be cured as soon get the kidney. Dose anybody know anything about this.?
    Thankyou

    Danny P. Doeden

  12. Guy Smith    

    Oh REALLY? Then I should reapply for compensation and disability rating for my treatment 20 years ago, when my claim was denied? I have only received stonewalling and denial from the V. A. in regard to my HCV and associated side affects of my treatment.

    1. Ariana Love    

      I am opening up a home for veterans and their families contact me threw here for more information

  13. Willie M Henry    

    Why is the va is not helping vets that was in the contaminated water at camp lejeune n,c it’s lot of us marines here that planning and trying to get to our senators and politicians that dont care about us

  14. Rudy V Martin    

    Awesome news for ACV treatment and cure! There is another treatment under trials right now that keeps you well and from getting sick at all! I can’t wait till it is available on the market as this would be super for young and old (seniors) alike. 🙂

  15. Timothy Moreino    

    It keeps getting better. I went through treatment in early 2011 and at that time the treatment was new and depending on certain factors could last from 3months to almost a year mine was the latter. Towards the end of my treatment a newer set of drugs became available with two pills and a 30 to 90 day cure rate. Very shortly after an even newer drug became that provided the current treatment outcomes. VA has led the way in this research and I have nothing but good to say about them. Rarely do you hear positive comments about Veteran care in the VA It’s time for the positive to be known.

  16. William P. Corr    

    Amazing accomplishment! Keep up the great work.

    If a veteran was receiving VA disability for having Hepatitis C and the VA cures the veteran of Hepatitis C, does the veteran still receive VA disability payments for Hepatitis C?

  17. Heptopic    

    Amazing Article & Keep Sharing Your Article My Social media Profile… Keep it up… I am waiting your next Article

    1. Michael Pelosi    

      They don’t pay benefits for Hep c

      I was denied now it’s liver cancer

  18. yalla shoot    

    I don Understand what is this

  19. Emmanuel Abel    

    Wow. Nice one. It can only get better as time goes on.

    1. Alan Walker    

      That’s true @ Emmanuel.
      Definitely gets better

Comments are closed.