Congressional funding has allowed the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to extend antiviral treatments to all veterans diagnosed with hepatitis C virus (HCV) who are treated within the VA healthcare system, according to an article published in JAMA.
The congressional funding comes after public outcry surrounding the VA’s restriction of antiviral therapy to veterans with advanced liver disease.
“The goal is to eradicate as much of the disease as we can,” said Chester Good, MD, chair of the VA’s medical advisory panel for pharmacy benefits management.
The VA will treat all veterans with HCV, regardless of the stage of their illness and whether it was contracted during military service. Since 2015, the number of veterans being treated with HCV antiviral therapy has doubled to nearly 1100 patients per week; the VA hopes to increase that number to 2000 patients per week by the end of 2016. Additional efforts are being made to screen all veterans born between 1945 and 1965, who account for more than 75% of HCV infections.
Veterans with drug or alcohol addiction are not excluded from VA treatment, but those with suspected adherence problems will not be offered treatment.
- Graham J. VA extends new hepatitis C drugs to all veterans in its health system. JAMA. 2016;316(9):913-915. doi: 10.1001/jama.2016.8669