Targeting hep C in the veteran community

Hepatitis C (hep C) is an important health concern facing U.S. military veterans. That’s because veterans enrolled in the care of the Veterans Health Administration are more likely to have hep C than others. In fact, more than 5% of these veterans have hep C.*

Because most people don’t experience symptoms, many don’t know they have it. And over time, hep C can lead to scarring of the liver (also called cirrhosis). That’s why getting tested is so important.

It’s time to TAKE ON HEP C

The American Legion is joining forces with AbbVie, a global biopharmaceutical company, to launch TAKE ON HEP C, a nationwide movement to bring free hep C antibody testing to veterans and their communities.

The TAKE ON HEP C tour is setting out to:

  • Identify and test those who are at a high risk for hep C
  • Educate about hep C and the importance of getting tested
  • Energize the community to take action and TAKE ON HEP C

Get the facts about hep C

Here’s what we’re up against:

  • About 3.4 million people in the U.S. are living with chronic hep C
  • Hep C is a blood-borne virus and is spread through contact with infected blood
  • Most people with hep C do not have any symptoms, or have general or common symptoms
  • Symptoms can be flu-like and include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, jaundice, abdominal pain, joint pain, dark urine, and gray-colored stools
  • A simple blood test can show if you have hep C antibodies, and you can get results in as few as 20 minutes. The presence of hep C antibodies indicates you may be currently infected with the hep C virus

Understand the risk to veterans

Data suggest that a higher prevalence of hep C is seen in veterans enrolled in the care of the Veterans Health Administration versus the general U.S. population. Vets could have been exposed to hep C in one or more of the following ways:

  • Doing healthcare work or sharing personal items, such as razors or toothbrushes, with someone who has hep C
  • Receiving a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992
  • Using injection drugs, sharing drug equipment, or receiving tattoos or body piercings in unregulated settings
  • Having a current or former sex partner with hep C
  • Having other potential blood-to-blood exposure, either during military service or at any other time

Who should get tested?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends hep C testing for:

  • Current or former injection drug users, including those who injected only once many years ago
  • Everyone born from 1945 to 1965
  • Anyone who received clotting factor concentrates made before 1987
  • Recipients of blood transfusions or solid organ transplants prior to July 1992
  • Long-term hemodialysis patients
  • People with known exposures to the hep C virus, such as healthcare workers or public safety workers, after needle sticks involving blood from someone infected with the hep C virus
  • People with HIV infection
  • Children born to mothers with hep C

This is a fight we can win because hep C can be cured—meaning the hep C virus isn't detectable in the blood 3 months after treatment ends. So let's all get tested and get on with it. Because in the battle against hep C, no one should be left behind.

TAKE ON HEP C tour dates

During the summer and fall of 2018, you’ll find the TAKE ON HEP C tour bus at local events across the country, offering education, healthcare consultations, and free on-the-spot testing:

8/4 - 8/7
Sturgis Bike Week
First National Bank
955 Main St.
Sturgis, SD

8/24 - 8/26
American Legion Convention
Minneapolis Convention Center
1301 2nd Ave S
Minneapolis, MN

8/31 - 9/2
Harley Davidson 115th Anniversary
Milwaukee County War Memorial Center
750 N Lincoln Memorial Dr
Milwaukee, WI

10/18 - 10/21
Biketoberfest Daytona
Exact Location TBD

 

* U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans Health Administration. Hepatitis C: information for veterans 2017. https://www.hepatitis.va.gov/pdf/Hepatitis-C-Factsheet-Veterans.pdf. Accessed July 2, 2018.

46A-1954832