Dear Senator & Congressman
Re: U.S. Military Veteran Liver Disease Research and Compensation Issues.
As my representative you ought to be aware that liver disease is one of the
major killers in America today, and is more so among Veterans.
Hepatitis C alone has been called a "silent epidemic" by former
general Everett Koop, MD, and it is estimated that as many as 4 million
Americans are infected.
The death rate due to complications from this disease is expected to
quadruple in the next 10 years.
There is no known cure and current treatment has an inadequate success rate,
even by physician standards (while often causing debilitating side effects).
Hepatitis is the number one cause for liver transplants and those numbers
are rising exponentially.
A recent study showed that 19% of veterans using a San Francisco Veterans
Administration facility tested positive for Hepatitis C. This is in contrast
to 2% of the population at large. There should be more questions asked about
how the veterans contracted this disease at ten times the rate of the
general population and what the veterans administration is going to do to
I am requesting that you investigate this important area of public health
and sponsor or co-sponsor legislation to look into the details of this
issue. It should also be considered Service connected by VA, under many
Thank you for your attention and consideration in regard to this serious
Tommy D. Dorris
Please Get Tested For Hepatitus C. At Any VA medical Center.The VA can not
refuse to test you.You may be spreading it to your family or friends,
The veteran Community has been hit hard by HCV. Recent studies show anywhere
from 30% to 65% of Veterans tested at VA sites are infected with the
disease. Most of these are Vietnam Vets. With a total Veteran population of
26 million, this means anywhere from 7.8 million to 16.9 million veterans
There is no cure and very little in the way of treatment of Hepatitis C.
Interferon and Ribavarin are the only options and the results are
disappointing. A new version of Interferon, called Pegelated Interferon
and put out by Schering-Plough, has been submitted to the FDA for approval.
This new version is IntronA with a time release added to it. You will only
be taking 1 shot a week! It doesn't look like it will be approved before the
end of 2000, though. Although the meds don't very often erradicate the
virus, it has been proven that they DO help improve liver histology.
Fibrosis IS reversable. For this reason alone, people should seriously
consider treatment as a way of slowing progression to end stage liver
disease,,,,,,. HCV is spread primarily by exposure to human blood. You may
have gotten Hepatitis C if: you ever injected street drug or used intranasal
drugs, even if you experimented ONE TIME many years ago.
you were treated for clotting problems with a blood product made before
1987. you received a blood transfusion or solid organ transplant (e.g.,
kidney, liver, heart) from an infected donor. you were ever on long-term
kidney dialysis. you were ever a health care worker, firefighter, EMT or
police and had frequent contact with blood in the work place, especially
accidental needlesticks. your mother had hepatitis C at the time she gave
birth to you. you ever had sex with a person infected with HCV or had
promiscious sex. you lived with someone who was infected with HCV and shared
items such as razors or toothbrushes that might have had blood on them.
you were ever in the Military and had vaccinations using the Pneumatic Jet
Injectors or were given Gamma Globulin in the 60's and 70's. you have gotten
tattoos or done body piercing. you ever recieved blood or blood components
before July 1992. you have ever had contact with another person's blood.
An estimated 85% go on to Chronic Hepatitis. An esitmated 20% of those
will go on to cirrhosis, liver cancer, and end-stage liver disease. Most
people will live with this chronic disease all their lives. Others will
progress to end stage disease and liver failure. The only option at that
point is Liver Transplant. There are over 13,000 people on lists to receive
a new liver, and approximately 4,000 organs available. Luckily, they are now
doing split liver transplants and live partial transplants. Donor Awareness
is the only way to help save these people. If you and your family are not
donors please take the time to consider the lives you may save and become a
Donor. It would be the greatest gift you could ever give someone - the gift