veterans should be tested for hepatitis C
The virus can
attack the liver, often without causing
A doctor with the
Veterans Administration in Pittsburgh
January 22, 2002
of America HEP C Update
February 2000 news clipping
Miss America 2000 and Vietnam Veterans of America To Help Veterans Fight Hepatitis C in Louisville
Screenings Available to All Veterans
LOUISVILLE, Ky., February 28, 2000 -- PR Newswire
Heather French -- a former Miss Louisville -- will return to the Bluegrass State as Miss America 2000 to launch a national program of hepatitis C screenings and seminars for veterans. Working with the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), Miss French will promote a campaign called Helping Veterans Fight a Silent Enemy; Hepatitis C. The program will educate veterans and their families about their risk for hepatitis C and encourage them to get tested for the disease.
Miss French, the daughter of a Vietnam veteran, will launch the campaign Saturday, March 4, at United Auto Workers (UAW) Union Hall, Local 862, 6707 Grade Lane, Louisville. The program begins at 10 a.m. Free screenings will be provided for all veterans by the Louisville Veterans Affairs Medical Center throughout the day. Additionally, a hepatitis C seminar will be held to educate the public about disease risk factors and symptoms, as well as existing treatment options. Speakers include: Miss French; Bennett Cecil, MD, Director of Hepatitis C Clinic, Louisville Veterans Affairs Medical Center; Darrel Martin, VVA Kentucky State Chapter 454 president; and Ken Moore, VVA hepatitis C coordinator.
Hepatitis C is an emerging health issue among America's veterans, who may be at higher risk for contracting the virus than the general public. "U.S. veterans who had blood-to-blood contact by receiving blood prior to 1992, during or after surgery, by caring for the wounded, or even by getting a tattoo with a non-sterilized needle, need to be tested for hepatitis C because they may be at risk," said Dr. Cecil. "Veterans should take advantage of this opportunity to get tested for this potentially life threatening disease."
Ms. French, who has been a strong advocate of veterans' causes during her year of service as Miss America 2000, views the screening program as a way of protecting the health of American veterans. "As a daughter of a Vietnam veteran, I have seen the health challenges that veterans face," says Miss French. "I do not want our country's veterans to suffer needlessly from preventable and treatable diseases such as hepatitis C. This program allows me to do my part in helping veterans stay healthy."
Hepatitis C affects approximately 4 million people in the United States and often shows no outward signs or symptoms for up to 30 years. A recent Department of Veterans Affairs testing of 26,000 VA patients found that nearly 8 to 10 percent were infected with hepatitis C, a rate of infection significantly higher than the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention's estimations that 1.8 percent of all Americans may be infected with Hepatitis C Virus (HCV).
Almost 3 million of the approximately 4 million Americans infected with hepatitis C will develop a chronic infection, which can lead to liver cancer or liver failure. Complications resulting from the HCV-related liver disease result in an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 deaths per year, with the death toll expected to triple over the next 10 to 20 years. HCV is the leading cause of liver transplants in the United States and one study found that more than half of liver transplant patients in VA hospitals have hepatitis C.
As a national spokesperson and advocate for homeless veterans, Miss French travels approximately 20,000 miles a month, to a different city every other day, addressing diverse audiences, advocating awareness, funding and volunteerism for homeless veterans' programs.
The Miss America Organization is the single largest provider of scholarships for women in the world, with scholarship assistance totaling nearly $35 million in 1999. It is a non-profit corporation based in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
The Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 454, wishes to thank The Schering Corporation for the educational grant that has helped make this campaign possible.
VVA Contact: Ken Moore 716-723-1569 Media Contact: Aimee White Ruder Finn 212-593-5804