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Hepatitis C Virus

These letters have been sent in by a few of our readers, in the hopes that it will bring attention to the serious problem of health care in our country. I for one do not understand how our government can spend Billions of dollars to help other countries. When indeed a vast majority of our own people have no insurance or health care of any kind.
Why is it that we can not pass a bill that will ensure health care at home?
And, how can justify spending Billions on foreign counties health care?
This is not a recent problem and we are not here to lay blame on any single person or party, ( Democrats or the Republicans ). It is my opinion that the government as a whole is to blame, we ask for it, they promise it, and we get nothing.

This Letter was reportedly sent to
 President George W. Bush (Republican) 
 Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (Republican) 
 Sen. John Cornyn (Republican) 
 Rep. Kevin P. Brady (Republican) 

You are in a position to make a difference, a huge difference. We don't need to go past our own doorsteps to find an issue that desperately needs to be addressed.

Hepatitis C infection is at epidemic levels. An estimated 5 million people in the US are infected, about a quarter of those will develop cirrhosis and/or liver cancer. If these numbers are correct, that would be over a million people.

Have you been tested? If not, you should be.

I was diagnosed positive for HCV ( hepatitis ) in May of 2002. I had to diagnose my own illness, ask for the test, and am now in treatment. The treatment is working, but I'm one of the very lucky ones. 48 weeks of injections, side effects, and praying each day will be a good one. My pharmacy sent bills to my insurance company for $10,000 per month for my treatment medications.

I had been feeling ill for several years. I couldn't eat meat, or any kind of fat. My weight dropped dramatically. I quit smoking hoping that would help. It helped, but, I was still sick. I had some nausea, vomiting, major depression, confusion, severe pain in my hands and feet, and extremely tired. I'm a computer programmer, and I couldn't remember what I had read a second after I had read it. Reading used to be my favorite past time. Not anymore - I get tired of reading the same thing over and over because I can't remember from one second to the next. I'm hoping I will recover and be able to return to my job when I finish treatment. If I'm still having concentration problems, I will most likely have to figure out what I can do to make a living. If I can not concentrate, I can not do the detailed and complicated logic needed to be a computer programmer.

I have an AAS College degree in data processing. I was a computer programmer/analyst for Harris County JIMS department (we handle all of the programming for criminal and civil information for Harris county). I almost completed 15 years of service. I was working towards full retirement in 5 years. I finally had to make a decision - my health, or my job?

Thank God I have a husband to support me and good insurance and my children are grown. Thank God I didn't give this virus to either of my sons or my husband of 27 years.

I don't know if I will have a job when I complete treatment or not. If it wasn't for FMLA, I would have lost my job sooner.

I'm here not to beg for money for treatment - but I am here to plead for public awareness. There is a huge population of Vietnam veterans that are infected, and they have never even heard of hepatitis C. We need money for research and treatment also, but, I am hoping education of the public about this virus can help bring an end to this epidemic that no one seems to care about.

I was in Washington DC for the HCV Awareness March on May 23, 2003, Memorial Day weekend. Mr. Cheney passed us as we walked in the cold rain. Wheelchairs, and canes. But we were there in the cold rain trying to make a difference for others. I was able to visit with several Vietnam veterans, and not one of them knew about HCV and how much of a problem it is. And to make matters worse, it is our young generation, the teenagers and 20 year olds, that seem to be getting infected. What a tragedy! So many of the infections could be avoided through education.

Please, help us to make a difference in the lives of our citizens, millions are infected.

Statistics - On a Per Patient Ratio

Aids ranks 17th in disease related deaths, while HCV ranks 7th. (10-14,000 deaths per year due to hepatitus.) The CDC estimates that over 5 million US citizens are infected with Hep C, this is 4x's the number of people with Aids and expected to quadruple in the next 10 years. HCV receives approximately $25 - compared to $5,500 for Aids. The American Association for the Study of Liver Disease states that damage from HCV alone, may cost the US economy more that $81 Billion by 2019. Another $71.5 Billion for productivity lost to the work force due to infection or death. The Government is sending $3 Billion to Africa for Aids, while liver disease research, education and treatment is significantly under funded by the US. Former surgeon general, Everett Koop, MD called HCV the "silent epidemic" since it takes up to 20 years for the symptoms to appear and by that time serious liver damage has been done. The only available treatment costs $1,700 a month and is not a cure, there is no available cure. This treatment has debilitating side effects, some life threatening. The HCV causes several other problems such as Kidney Disease, Neuropathy, Lymphoma, Sjogrien Syndrome, Diabetes along with many other serious diseases. If not caught in time victims of HCV may not even be eligible for treatment or liver transplants because of to many other diseases present also.

Letter sent in by Barbie Minsch

My complaint is concerning health issues & our government. I was diagnosed with Hepatitus-C in 2000. At that time, I had no idea what this diagnosis meant for me, or even what hep-c was! When I asked the Dr, she suggested I write to The National Liver Foundation, requesting more information on it. That is how little our health care providers do know about this disease. I've always been a healthy person, am only 44 yrs old, now. But, in the last couple of years, have begun to see what hav! ! ing hep-c does mean for me. I constantly fight depression, fatigue, brain-fog, muscle & joint pain, among other things. This is a disease that much research is needed for, as they have no cure, & the treatment options today are grim. The treatment they offer may/may not put the virus into remission, at much cost to our bodies. It not only attempts to kill the hep virus, but it also kills living cells, etc... in our bodies, too. Its very much similar to chemotherapy for cancer patients.
75% of all those with hep-c are American veterans. Yet, our government treats us as though we are the 'red-headed step-child', so to speak. The gov't. gives $5,500.00 towards research & treatment for each person infected with HIV/Aids, but only gives a mere $25.00 for each of us with hep-c, even though hep-c out- numbers HIV in its death rate, 4 to 1. What do we have to do to gain the attention we need? We go to DC every year for our annual Public Awareness March, although we gain little there. We don't even get any media coverage. We're trying to send out the message to all Americans, about hep-c. Don't ever loan out or borrow someone's tweezers, nail-clippers, toothbrush, razor. It is only transmitted from blood to blood contact, it is NOT a STD
( sexually transmitted disease). But, it can live outside the body for 8 days. So, I beg you to all be careful in this way. The number of infected Americans is steadily on the rise. Please write to!
your congressmen/women, to our president, to anyone who will listen!

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