Coatesville Veterans Affairs Medical Center
Hepatitis C May Surprise You
Veterans 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.
The Coatesville VA Medical Center has medications that may cure hepatitis C in as little as 12 weeks. Contact your primary care provider using MyHealtheVet secure messaging or our call center at 610-383-0239, or go directly to the laboratory (no appointment needed) in Building 3 to receive your screening. Screenings are also available at our Springfield Community Based Outpatient Clinic, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings and our Spring City Community Based Outpatient Clinic, Thursday mornings.
VA is the largest single provider of hepatitis care in the United States. For more information about hepatitis, visit www.hepatitis.va.gov.