Up to 10 percent of Vietnam veterans have hepatitis C infections, but many do not know their disease status.
An estimated 10 percent of Vietnam veterans are infected with a form of hepatitis C that many don’t even know they have even though it can be more easily cured than ever, said an expert who addressed a gathering of veterans at St. Francis de Sales Church on Sunday.
In fact, baby boomers in general — those born between 1945 and 1965, before the adoption of modern infection control standards in the late 1980s and early 1990s — are believed to be at especially high risk and, according to the Centers for Disease Control, are five times more likely than other age groups to have the virus, which was not discovered until 1989.
“Many people who have hepatitis C do not know that the virus is silently doing harm to their liver despite the fact that they may not be showing any outward symptoms,” said Angela Acha, a registered nurse and health educator, at the monthly meeting of the Walkill Valley chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America.
Acha — a community outreach specialist for the pharmaceutical firm Gilead Sciences, which is behind several of today’s treatments for the disease — said more than 3.5 million Americans altogether are believed to have hepatitis C, which is spread by blood-to-blood contact.
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