In March, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced it would fund care for all veterans with Hepatitis C for fiscal year 2016, regardless of the stage of the patient’s liver disease. According to the VA the decision was made possible through increased funding from Congress, along with reduced drug prices.
“We’re honored to be able to expand treatment for Veterans who are afflicted with hepatitis C,” VA Under Secretary for Health Dr. David Shulkin said in a release. “To manage limited resources previously, we established treatment priority for the sickest patients. Additionally, if Veterans are currently waiting on an appointment for community care through the Choice Program, they can now turn to their local VA facility for this treatment or can elect to continue to receive treatment through the Choice Program.”
Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center Public Affairs Officer Damon Stevenson says the facility wants its patients to be aware of the new options for Hepatitis C treatment. “If for some reason they weren’t eligible before for the previous medications, that has changed,” Stevenson said. “And now these new medications open it up for any veteran with Hepatitis C to receive treatment.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, Hepatitis C is a liver infection caused by the Hepatitis C virus, which is blood-borne. Hepatitis C can be a short-term illness, but for 70 to 85 percent of people with Hepatitis C, it becomes a long-term, chronic infection. Hepatitis C is spread through injection drug use, receipt of donated blood, blood products, and organs (now a rare transmission form), needle stick injuries in health care settings and birth to an infected mother.