Thursday, March 1, 2018

The VA Will Eliminate Hepatitis C In Veterans By Year-end

The VA Will Eliminate Hepatitis C In Veterans By Year-end
John LaMattina
Only a few years ago, stories appeared in the media about how tens of thousands of U.S. veterans were infected with hepatitis C and that the government couldn’t afford to treat them. Typical was a CBS News report headlined “VA can’t afford drug for veterans suffering from hepatitis C”

1 comment:

  1. I am a Vietnam War veteran, a hepatitis C survivor and one of the leading advocates in the nation for Vietnam Era Veterans whose risk of having an active hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is up to ten times higher than that of the general population of adults in the United States.

    I am also the author and primary proponent of the Vietnam Era Veterans Hepatitis C Testing Enhancement Act which has significant support in the House of Representatives and is the subject of testimony I will be giving to the Veterans Affairs Committee later this month, and to the House of Representatives at large later this spring.

    Regarding the information in your recent article you have been grossly misled, and the public dissemination of such terribly misleading statements is literally risking the lives of hundreds of thousands of Vietnam Era Veterans who have no idea that they are HCV positive and do not know how critically important it is for them to get tested. Positive testing results for Vietnam Veterans will likely number anywhere from 325,000 to 650,000, a huge number of cases being ignored by the VA due to eligibility issues.

    Your article does nothing but reinforce the deadly misconceptions that have been fueled by other poorly researched articles and news stories. Far too many Vietnam Era Veterans believe these falsehoods… that if they weren’t combat wounded, weren’t in combat at all or weren’t even in country during the Vietnam War, their risk of having been exposed to the hepatitis C virus is very low. Vietnam Era Veterans are dying every day because of these critical misconceptions.

    Whether we were deployed to Southeast Asia or not, millions of us were exposed to hepatitis C by government administered inoculations in boot camp using the Pedo-Jet Air Inoculation Device, commonly referred to as the Jet Gun, which was banned in 1992 by the D.O.D. and later by the World Health Organization. The CDC and the VA both agree that 75% of all those infected with the hepatitis C virus are completely unaware of their HCV positive status. And yet your article essentially confirms these misconceptions and tells 6.5 million Vietnam Era Veterans that if they were not combat wounded they have nothing to worry about.

    NOTHING could be farther from the truth! In the statistical database from over 1,000 Vietnam Era Veterans tested for hepatitis C in our five clinics to date at my American Legion Post 1619, there was zero correlation between combat wounded and positive/reactive HCV test results.

    It is critical that you be aware that that approximately 6.5 MILLION Vietnam Era Veterans with a very high risk of having an active HCV infection are not included in the VA’s reported data.

    I cannot stand idly by and allow your article to undermine the truth with the incorrect and misleading information. And I am not going let Secretary Shulkin whitewash the true hepatitis C threat to ALL Vietnam Era Veterans by misleading Congress, the media and the public so that he can pat himself and his Agency on the back while over 5,000 veterans outside of VA health care die each year of Hepatitis C infections that were acquired during their years of military service. Let that sink in for a minute... there's a headline for you or Forbes Magazine: VA WRITES OFF A HALF A MILLION VIETNAM VETS, "NOT OUR PROBLEM" SAYS SHULKIN.

    I am fighting for my brothers, and have dedicated my life's work to saving as many as humanly possible. This was my War and this is my generation, a generation of heroes who sadly have been disrespected and dishonored for over 45 years and shunned by the nation they served and the government that sent us into battle. I cannot back away from what I consider to be my duty to honor their service to our country. You have now put yourself squarely between a Marine and his duty to those he served with. Never a good spot to be in sir.

    Daniel L. Kaifetz
    USMC 1970-1972