Results from a large VA study provides evidence of severe HCV outbreaks in U. S. boomer veterans who visited the VA at least once in 2011. They looked at lab results going back about 12 years. This table show the prevalence of HCV infection by birth year–with 1954 having the worst odds.
Black men in the boomer cohort were the hardest hit at 18.2%.
I’ll post the whole study when I get it from the VA. (It’s currently on JAMA)
The study provides data for anti-HCV and HCV infections (page 2) for those in VA care in 2011 who were screened–about 53.4% of 2.8 million veterans. This doesn’t include those in private care but the nuanced language is pessimistic. If you think about veterans as a population/cultural group that then scattered (returned home) I think the word hyperendemic seems more suitable than the tamer “outbreak.”
We know that there are many methods of transmission for this opportunistic virus but there was a definite amplification during this period. And no, black men did not join the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, go through boot camp and training hoping to get sent to Vietnam and shoot up cheap drugs while dodging bullets and missiles. Those insulting stereotypes are what many esteemed researchers would like us to believe.
According to epidemiologists, HCV entered the United States during the slave trade. The slave ship routes also explain the higher rates of Hispanic infections. HCV was transmitted inefficiently from person-to-person for a long period. But then new types of health care services were invented amplifying the spread of HCV–and war activities provided perfect opportunities for transmissions: Dirty blood was used in transfusions, the source of blood eventually came from a “closed loop” source, unsafe mass injections via jet injectors, multi-dose and dirty syringes were used, unsafe sex was engaged in, combat blood exposures were common. The tattoos, village barbers, sharing personal care items, surgeries, gamma globulin, dental procedures, lack of VA infection control, and so forth all combined to create this vile unhealthy and devastating crisis. Good intentions led to misery and the medical cover-ups we still are dealing with. Why do more males have HCV? Well, males do risky things like join the military.
These ideas need to be repeated as the concepts become clearer and the facts are gradually illuminated by science because the information is being released piecemeal by public health professionals and other interested parties.
Ed. note. I have talked with numerous Veterans who eventually obtained their VA medical records and were shocked to discover VA had tested them in the early 2000s and never told them they were positive for HCV. Imagine a medical organization who couldn’t be bothered to notify a Veteran that he was dying from an insidious disease that could be cured (if Interferon could be called such.)