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News From the American Liver Foundation


As the nation pauses this weekend to honor our veterans, we at the American Liver Foundation are concerned with veterans’ health.  As we know well, chronic HCV infection is the most common blood-borne disease in the United States, affecting approximately 3.5 million people.   It is spread through contact with infected blood and can cause serious liver problems, including cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) and liver cancer.  Chronic HCV slowly damages the liver, often without showing symptoms.  In many cases, the infection is not recognized until problems with the liver have already developed.

Veterans are three times more likely to have chronic HCV infection than the general population.  The risk is highest for veterans born between 1945 and 1965, who are five times more likely than other veterans to have chronic HCV infection.  In addition to age and veteran status, other risk factors for chronic HCV infection include having undergone a transfusion with blood or blood products before 1992, having injected drugs, having gotten body piercings or tattoos, or being infected with HIV.

Despite their increased risk for chronic hepatitis C virus infection, too many veterans remain undiagnosed.  We are proud to collaborate with Merck on an important initiative, which we believe will help many veterans better understand their risk, as well as their options for getting tested and linked to care.

Through the initiative, educational events will initially be held in Boston, Philadelphia, Phoenix and San Diego.  Educators from the American Liver Foundation will speak with veterans about their potential risk factors for chronic HCV infection and provide tips and resources for those who are at-risk or living with the disease

“At Merck, we are deeply grateful for the service and sacrifices that veterans have made for our country,” said John Schwind, executive director, Merck. “We will continue working on behalf of veterans through initiatives such as this, as well as through our broader commitment to hiring veterans and providing resources to support employees transitioning to civilian life.”



Tom Nealon
American Liver Foundation

Last Updated on March 15, 2018


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