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JAMA Article: Veterans Affairs to Treat All Hepatitis C Patients

With increased Congressional funding, the Department of Veterans Affairs is planning to treat all veterans with chronic hepatitis C infection enrolled in VA.

Earlier this year, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) further expanded their efforts to treat all of their patients infected with chronic hepatitis C.

As described in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), VA has received additional funds from Congress to support hepatitis C treatment of all veterans. Treatment will be provided regardless of an individual’s stage of liver disease or how they contracted hepatitis C. Of all 174,842 Veterans diagnosed with hepatitis C within VA, 76,000 have been treated and over 60,000 have been cured. Approximately 89,000 veterans have been diagnosed but not yet treated, and an additional 40,000 may be infected but not be aware of their infection. VA now plans to initiate hepatitis C treatment for 1,100 patients each week, with a goal of 2,000 per week by the end of 2016.

For over a decade, VA has been developing a robust hepatitis C program starting with screening all veterans from the Vietnam era. Among this group, as many as 1 in 10 are chronically infected with hepatitis C. Screening efforts have since been expanded to align with recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and in 2015 alone, 7,400 new infections were identified among veterans across the nation. More recently, VA has undertaken a major redesign of hepatitis C care to further expand their capacity screen and cure veterans with chronic infection.

Recognizing that all partners are needed to fully address hepatitis C, veteran groups such as Vietnam Veterans of America and the American Legion have a critical role in education and outreach, testing and linkage to care and treatment. These groups can reach beyond those veterans currently in VA care and help to identify those outside the VA care system who could benefit from the improvements being made in the system as well as the additional funds Congress has made available for hepatitis C treatment.

VA is one of over 20 agencies and offices partnering on the federal implementation of the national Viral Hepatitis Action Plan. Read the full JAMA article online, and learn more about VA’s efforts to address viral hepatitis C among veterans.

From @JAMA_current: @DeptVetAffairs to extend #HepC treatment for ALL veterans in their system: http://go.usa.gov/xkJyG

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Public Health and Safety
Health Insurance Reform
Tagged: Hepatitis C