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
“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.
“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)
“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.”