Veterans and Hepatitis C
This content was developed through a collaboration between the American Liver Foundation and Merck, Sharp & Dohme Corp.,
a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc.
The American Liver Foundation and Merck are working together to raise awareness among U.S. veterans about their increased risk for chronic hepatitis C.
Through this initiative, educators from the American Liver Foundation will be speaking with veterans at events in cities across the country about risk factors, as well as how they can be tested and treated, if appropriate.
Learn more about the impact of chronic hepatitis C on veterans.
About Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C virus infection is the most common blood-borne infection in the United States, affecting approximately 3.5 million people.
- Hepatitis C is a chronic viral infection that can cause serious liver problems, including liver failure and liver cancer.
- Hepatitis C is spread through contact with the blood of someone who has been infected and can slowly damage the liver, often without causing symptoms.
- About half of all Americans with hepatitis C are unaware they are infected.
Veterans and Hepatitis C
Veterans are three times more likely to be infected with hepatitis C than the general population. The risk is highest for veterans born between 1945 and 1965, who are five times more likely than other veterans to have chronic HCV infection.
In addition to age and veteran status, other risk factors for hepatitis C include:
- Having undergone a transfusion with blood or blood products before 1992
- Current or past use of injection drugs
- Having body piercings or tattoos
- Being infected with HIV
Getting Screened for Hepatitis C
Those with risk factors for chronic hepatitis C should talk to a healthcare provider about getting screened. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all baby boomers, or those born between 1945 and 1965, get tested. A healthcare provider can test for hepatitis C with a simple blood test, and results are often available in as little as 20 minutes.
Today, chronic hepatitis C can be treated and cured in most people, even if they have been living with the virus for several years. Cure of chronic hepatitis C infection means that the virus can no longer be detected in the blood 3 months after completing treatment. For more information, including local resources on where to find physicians in your area, call the American Liver Foundation’s National Helpline at 1-800-GO-LIVER (1-800-465-4837).
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