Hepatitis C (hep C) is a significant health concern facing U.S. military veterans today. It has been suggested by several studies that a higher prevalence of hepatitis C is seen in veterans versus nonveterans. Over 5 percent of veterans enrolled in the care of the Veterans Health Administration have hep C. When left untreated, hep C can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Hep C is curable – which means the hep C virus is not detectable in the blood months after treatment ends - but the first step is to get tested. This is why The American Legion is launching the Take Down Hep C campaign.

You may have hep C and not know it.

  • Hep C is a blood-borne virus spread when your blood comes into contact with infected blood of another individual.
  • Hep C is inflammation of the liver caused by the hepatitis C virus.
  • Up to 75 percent of people with chronic hep C in the United States do not know they have it.
  • Most people living with the virus have no symptoms following infection.
  • Symptoms of the disease can be flu-like and include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, jaundice, abdominal pain, joint pain, dark urine and gray-colored stools.

U.S. veterans are at elevated risk of having hep C.

A veteran could have been exposed to hep C in one or more of the following ways:

  • Combat medical work or sharing of personal items such as razors or toothbrushes.
  • While receiving a blood transfusion, blood product or organ transplant (before 1992).
  • Sharing dirty needles or receiving a tattoo or body piercing with contaminated equipment or by a non-professional.
  • Exposure to contaminated blood on the battlefield or during sexual contact with a person with hep C.

Are you ready to Take Down Hep C?

  • All veterans should know their risk factors, get tested for hep C antibodies and learn their results so they can talk with doctors about next steps including treatment options.
  • Hep C antibody testing is available at all VA medical centers and you may qualify for a free test. Contact your American Legion Department Service Officer (DSO) for more information. To find department service officers near you, visit www.legion.org/serviceofficers.

Take Down Hep C – The Campaign

  • Take Down Hep C is a national movement to encourage people who are at risk to get tested for hep C antibodies.
  • The American Legion is working together with Abbvie, Inc., a national corporate alliance of The American Legion, to Take Down Hep C because the disease is a significant health concern facing U.S. military veterans.
  • The American Legion National Executive Committee has passed Resolutions 140 and 148 that urge the Department of Veterans Affairs to approve presumptive service connection for hep C and increase funding for medical research for hep C and other health-care issues veterans face.
  • Visit TakeDownHepC.com to learn more about the risk factors, importance of hep C antibody testing, and discussing the results with your doctor for possible treatment options.

Do your part – get tested today! Together we can Take Down Hep C.