VA encourages Veterans to get tested and get treatment for viral hepatitis. If left untreated, hepatitis is life threatening, because it can lead to liver disease.
Effective screening and treatment for hepatitis is available at your VA medical center. Testing for hepatitis C infection is recommended for all Veterans born between 1945 and 1965, regardless of perceived risk.
May 19 is National Hepatitis Testing Day. Hepatitis C infections can go unnoticed for years, even decades. Effective treatment is available. Don’t let hepatitis C surprise you. Get the facts. Get tested. Get treatment.
Learn more at www.hepatitis.va.gov/patient/hcv/testing/index.asp.
“Hepatitis” means inflammation of the liver. It can be caused by one of several viruses, which is why it is often called “viral hepatitis.” The most common types of viral hepatitis within the U.S. are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.
Hepatitis B and hepatitis C can become chronic, life-long infections that can cause serious health problems including liver damage, cirrhosis, liver cancer, and even death.
Veterans have unusually high rates of hepatitis C, especially those born between 1945 and 1965. Hepatitis C 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.
Many are Unaware They Have Hepatitis C
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 from 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
- 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.
According to the Hepatitis Foundation International, an estimated 4.4 million Americans are living with chronic hepatitis and about 80,000 new infections occur each year.