I have been contacted about a gazillion times with worries from a lot of you who are preparing for treatment with Sovaldi. The primary concern voiced is that you may lose your ratings or be reduced. Relax.
First of all, those of you who have been granted service connection have innumerable secondary diseases, muscular or gland/organ dysfunctions in addition to the Hepatitis C. Your liver is not about to regenerate itself so you can’t resume that wild and crazy lifestyle we indulged ourselves in back in the eighties. You can’t claim alcohol abstinence as a disability anyway. Shoot, bubba. I was the first one to file for that one. VA ain’t buying.
Some have lost thyroid glands or kidneys to this monster. Others have suffered horrible depression and the mental diseases that accompany it. Still others have DM2-either from the HCV or Interferon treatment(s). Face it. You were damaged-either directly or indirectly-by your infection with this critter. Anything that is secondary to the original infection is legally compensable.
Interferon, in its own right, is probably far more likely to have zapped your more than the Hep. It has been known to be responsible for the majority of thyroid and Diabetes misfires and is strongly associated with a host of other ailments to include tinnitus and deteriorating vision.
HCV has also been indicted in setting off a panoply of autoimmune disorders such as Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, cryoglobulinemia, porphyria cutanea tarda (PCT) and pruritis. I could go on but the jury is still busy determining a host of other ills that science is only now putting under the microscope as being suspect.
The long and short of this is that SVR, or remission in DickandJanespeak, is more of a paper term and in no way, shape or form means you are ready for the Boston Marathon. The damage done over decades can not be set aright simply by waving the magic Sovaldi wand over you and incanting the magical words “Rise. You are, like, totally healed dude”. VA knows this but has been known to use it negatively in an attempt to portray your health as peachy keen and dandy.
In fact, our very own member Malcolm in the Middle is caught in this maelstrom. VA insists he is now pure as the driven snow, free of the bug and thus not entitled to any remuneration. This fails to explain the host of ills he suffers-the very least of which is DM2.
If and when VA should approach you and ask for a new C&P to measure what condition your condition is in, you will have to comply. This may set off a new round of litigation if they try to go south on you. Stand fast and report here. We’ll give you the repair order on an individual case-by-case basis because VA never attacks quite the same way each time. They do have a limited repertoire but it is predictable. You will simply have to pick the correct argument off the rack and type it up.
In summary, Hepatitis C remission is not even considered a done deal for years as the bug is incredibly rugged and tenacious. Some have discovered this to their dismay as much as three years later. Relax. The new regimen of Sovaldi/Ledipasvir/Ribavirin seems to shut this puppy down dead in its tracks. For those of us who do not reach sustained virologic response (SVR), the results are now coming in showing the drug combo sets the bug back on its heels so completely that it is all but in remission. This allows the liver to resume a modicum of normalcy. If you are like me (63 and Genotype 3), even if you do not attain SVR, you will at least die of old age instead of a decompensated liver. The other upside is that it appears to decrease the chances of Hepatocellular Carcinoma or HCC- the Farrah Faucett killer.
The Gilead scientists are also optimistic that SVR with Sovaldi, even in the event of a transplant, grants immunity to the new liver. Hallelujah, Leigh and Paul!
Nothing is going to cure a lot of the diseases that attached to you over the progression of your unknown illness. Your missing thyroid is not going to reappear like the Geico lizard’s tail that got amputated in the car door. Your DM2 is not likely to go into remission either. As for the fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis? Hard to say. The damage is done and is difficult to reverse. This is why we strongly advocate you seek service connection for these even if you are rated 100% or TDIU for the hep. Call it insurance. We all know what VA is capable of. Be a cub sprout and be prepared.