Hepatitis affects some 4 million Americans in its chronic form. HCV is one of five currently identified hepatitis viruses: A, B, C, D, and E, all of which can attack and damage the liver. HCV, one of the most serious of the five, can cause cirrhosis (irreversible and potentially fatal liver scarring), liver cancer, and liver failure. Hepatitis C is the major reason for liver transplants in the United States.
Individuals at high-risk for acquiring hepatitis C include those who:
One particularly high risk
group is veterans. There is an extensive treatment article from the Veterans
Administration HERE. "Eight percent to ten percent of
veterans tested positive for the disease in a survey of 26,000, making the
potentially deadly illness four to five times more prevalent among veterans
than the rest of the population."
- Veterans Health Administration Advisory Bulletin 04/05/1999 [view
Another very high risk group is mothers who received an Rh-factor Blood transfusion often given around the time of childbirth or who received a Blood transfusion during a C-section. [view article HERE]
The United States Public Health Service has begun a "look-back" program designed to identify chronic carriers of HCV so that they can receive treatment and counseling. The plan includes a direct notification outreach to people who received a Blood transfusion from a donor, mostly before 1992, who later tested positive for HCV, along with an education effort directed at those who are at risk for hepatitis C
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