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Hepatitis C and Military Service

[captionpix imgsrc=”http://lucindaporterrn.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/memorial.jpg” captiontext=”Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net”] Memorial Day is a day set aside to remember the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Memorial Day also falls in the month dedicated to increasing awareness about viral hepatitis C. Since U.S. veterans are at a higher risk for hepatitis C, today’s post focuses on this special group.

Approximately 5.4% of U.S. Veterans are infected with chronic hepatitis C, tripling that of the general U.S. population. More than 170,000 veterans under care of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) have confirmed chronic hepatitis C. Veterans with the highest risks for hepatitis C are those who served in the Vietnam War era, those with alcohol or substance use disorders, and those with psychiatric conditions or homelessness.

Among Veterans, the incidents of cirrhosis, end-stage liver disease, and liver cancer are increasing. Over the past 10 years, the number of hepatitis C-positive Veterans diagnosed with cirrhosis has tripled to over 25,000, while over the same period the number of hepatitis C-infected Veterans diagnosed with liver cancer has increased by ten-fold.

When are we going to step up and serve those who served us? Let’s start now.

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