Public health Johnny-come-latelies on HCV


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Zoom, zoom.  The federal government health professionals are revving up their Denali SUVs  to educate the public on hepatitis.  Yesterday, they announced on the aids.gov blog:

SOUNDING THE ALARM ON A SILENT EPIDEMIC: FEDERAL HIV/STD ADVISORY GROUP ADOPTS VIRAL HEPATITIS AS PRIORITY

Why now?

“The implementation of the Action Plan for the Prevention, Care and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis has really sharpened the focus of federal agencies on viral hepatitis and galvanized cross-agency collaborations.”

“…A second main impetus was learning from CDC analysis last spring that mortality related to hepatitis C has now outpaced AIDS related deaths.”

Really? Completely clueless until the spring of 2011?

“Finally, …One-third of people living with HIV are co-infected with hepatitis B (HBV) or hepatitis C (HCV) and viral hepatitis progresses at a faster rate among persons with HIV. …Indeed, liver disease—much of which is related to hepatitis C and hepatitis B infection— has become a leading cause of death among people living with HIV.”

HIV/AIDS is where the funding is.  Transmission similarities aside, it makes sense to finally tap into this budget.

Now, to compare the VA’s HIV and HCV 2008 figures.

From: http://www.hepatitis.va.gov/pdf/HCV-State-of-Care-2010.pdf

“In 2008, VHA clinicians cared for over 147,000 Veterans with chronic HCV.  Of the 5.6 million Veterans in VHA care in 2008, one of every 38 (2.6%) had a diagnosis of chronic HCV. “(Executive summary)

“Hepatitis B co-infection was present in approximately 8% of Veterans with chronic HCV while 3.8% were known to be co-infected with HIV.” (pg 23)

From :  http://www.hiv.va.gov/pdf/state-of-care.pdf

“In 2008, over 23,000 HIV infected Veterans were seen by VHA clinicians; …Overall, 5.6 million Veterans were treated by VHA in 2008, thus about one of every 250 Veterans in care at VHA is living with HIV/AIDS.”

One out of four had chronic hepatitis C virus infection and 7% had chronic hepatitis B virus infection.

It will be interesting to look at the HIV and HCV veteran boomer cohorts, subtract out, say, 10% from each group,  (I’m estimating 10% to be gay, or IV drug users), and look for commonalities among the remaining 90%.

These figures are five years old.  To recap, in VHA patients, 1/250 had HIV; and 1/38 had HCV. Both statistics are bad but HCV is clearly much worse problem in the veteran population. 

Editor’s note: If VA has suddenly noticed the offending nose on their face and elected to cut it off, it would be due in no small measure to the constant drum roll of information being trebucheted over the walls of the VA castle by none other than Patricia Lupole. Odd that it has taken 15 years for them to notice, let alone acknowledge what everyone knew. I watched the appeals for HCV at the BVA skyrocket from 1992 to the present. I have seen no such phenomenon relative to HIV. Apparently, it’s more politically correct to be gay ( and get the scarce medical research dollars)  than to have a “drug addict’s” disease.  Rodney Dangerfield’s plaint that “I don’t get no respect”. is more than an apt metaphor  to enunciate our plight . It appears the pooh bahs have artfully dallied just long enough to permit the majority of us to die or become horribly afflicted with post-Interferon treatment maladies before acknowledging that the smoke indeed represents a fire. Seems we did this from 1981 to 1991 with Agent Orange. The public hue and outcry did much to bring it to the front burner. Nothing like a little cirrhosis and HCC to invigorate public opinion and get the ball rolling. I would also point out the obvious. Vets could be falling like flies and it would not motivate public opinion one iota. When some Senator’s son is suddenly afflicted, it becomes a major epidemic- but not one day sooner. Or, in the alternative, if it will bring in more votes and keep or facilitate a political agenda, stand back and avoid the stampede to the medical research trough. Whatever the underlying reason, let us all say a prayer and thank our lucky stars that someone noticed our plight. What is most dangerous is that it will be no more than a flash in the pan and subside. Please don’t permit that to happen.

It’s first and ten on our 40 yd. line and we have an excellent chance of scoring this time if we control the media. As they say at Huntington beach, “Dude! Surf’s up. Let’s hit it.”

About Laura

NW Vermont.
This entry was posted in Congressional HCV info, Guest authors, HCV Health, HCV Risks (documented), Medical News and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Public health Johnny-come-latelies on HCV

  1. asknod says:

    Between 2000 and 2008, the annual number of all cause deaths recorded for Veterans with
    chronic HCV rose from 1,259 (1,129 per 100,000 in VHA care) to 5,967 (4,049 per 100,000 in
    VHA care), respectively. The PHSHG is acutely interested in understanding the causes
    associated with this increase in deaths including the impact of chronic hepatitis C.

    Have the inmates taken over the asylum? The whole world is interested in understanding the causes associated with this increase in deaths due to the bug. They all point to a common etiology rather than an exclusive cohort of drug addicts. The graphs clearly show the 40 year spike and high water yet everyone at VA stands mesmerized by the data with no apparent clue of how to interpolate it. Oohing and ahhing over the data is not very scientific nor does it import logical analysis. With luck, the deaths will rise until we’re all gone and then the problem will resolve itself.

  2. RobertG says:

    Do I detect progress with out fight? YES a great post/read but not up to date on the statistics. My personal take goes back to 1995 when I was in a 6 month test dummy of alpha interferon 2b injections 3 times a week. The pills were also on the menu. The quack lead investigator (Dr McCraken) LIED to me about my progress to IFN therapy. After 6 months I was kicked out of the program. Why? I was worse than before I started. I didn’t find this out to almost 10 years later. There were about 35 people in the same study as I. I was told 15 died and some more never returned for follow up. A nurse who retired told me this as she was the intake team who checked us in every Friday. I believe NOBODY responded to therapy and I am alive to talk about it. The results were not made available to me nor would anyone in GI answer my questions. I read this article with a tear in my eye. I pray to God no one gets screwed/damaged like I did. I have been lied to by EVERYONE from the RO-Doctors-VSO-vA employees all who had my care in their hands. I am very bitter and hateful to the vA and those who treat me like a piece of shit. I would hope these political clowns would call some of us veterans to testify as to how we have been treated with this insidious disease. Let them goes to the horses mouth and hear the real truth. I hope I live to see changes in funding for HCV and acknowledgement the damage IFN has done to me. Either way I am prepared for the inevitable with my appeals or the mortician…

  3. HCVet says:

    Don’t forget there is a difference in Screening and Testing… that’s why the low vA numbers… vets are disqualified during screening for testing… unless they slept with more than one person, had an STD after service, didn’t or inject drugs… sex is the lease likely if at all possible unless you’re gay and have rough sex.. Let’s see… not screened for jetguns = 1 in 7 infected…. Bogus is kind…..

    2005 FDA Safety of Jetguns Advisory Meeting DR. FRIEDE: The devices (jetguns) that we have seen …show that frequent contamination…was clearly of a level of blood that we are convinced can carry disease. So the devices which do not have a protection cap which are to be used for giving intramuscular injection we are convinced that these carry a significant risk. http://hcvets.com/data/occupational/munji/2005-FDAJetgunHearing.htm

  4. SquidlyOne says:

    Great blog…That is thor’s hammer right there!

    However, the vA likes playing with numbers to make things look to their advantage. We know from the 1999-2000 Congressional hearing that the vA did not notify Vietnam or Post Vietnam (80% of infected Veterans) Vets and there was no outreach to any Veteran whether or not they were under VHA helathcare or not. We all have to remember that most Vietnam and post-Vietnam Veterans are not under VHA helathcare. So that makes this statement about the percentage of HCV infected Veterans completely bogus:

    “Of the 5.6 million Veterans in VHA care in 2008, one of every 38 (2.6%) had a diagnosis of chronic HCV. “(Executive summary)

    Also, Medicare DOES NOT pay for screening people for HCV!

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