Thursday, August 11, 2016

VA Extends New Hepatitis C Drugs to All Veterans in Its Health System

VA Extends New Hepatitis C Drugs to All Veterans in Its Health System

Judith Graham
JAMA. Published online August 10, 2016. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.8669

Aided by new funds from Congress, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is extending new antiviral treatments to all veterans with hepatitis C treated within its sprawling health care system—regardless of the stage of their illness and whether they contracted these infections during military service.

The government agency is now beginning hepatitis C antiviral therapy for 1100 patients a week—double the figure from a year ago—and hopes to increase that number to 2000 patients a week by the end of this year, said David Ross, MD, director of the VA’s HIV, hepatitis, and public health pathogens programs. At the same time, the VA is trying to screen all veterans born between 1945 and 1965, who account for more than 75% of hepatitis C infections.

This “enormous effort” has required a redesign of care within the VA, Ross noted. Five medical centers in San Francisco; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Richmond, Virginia; Portland, Oregon; and West Haven, Connecticut, are leading that initiative, disseminating training and expert advice on hepatitis C throughout the VA, the nation’s largest integrated health care system.

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