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Free hepatitis C testing offered June 13 to some veterans

The hepatitis C virus spreads through contaminated blood. The virus is spread primarily by blood-to-blood contact associated with intravenous drug use, poorly sterilized medical equipment, needlestick injuries in healthcare and transfusions.
The hepatitis C virus spreads through contaminated blood. The virus is spread primarily by blood-to-blood contact associated with intravenous drug use, poorly sterilized medical equipment, needlestick injuries in healthcare and transfusions. AP File

Veterans born between 1945 and 1965 who are enrolled in Veterans Affairs health care can get free hepatitis C testing June 13 at various sites in Mississippi.

The Mississippi Community Veterans Engagement Board (MS-CVEB), in coordination with the VA medical centers in Biloxi and Jackson, has launched the program that will include testing at sites in Gulf South region.

The University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Veterans, Service Members and Families announced the program in a press release Tuesday.

“Hepatitis C is a horrific disease affecting up to 17 percent of our veterans, and most don’t even know they have it,” said retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Jeff Hammond, who serves as the USM center’s director and also as MS-CVEB chairman. “I’m going to be tested, to set an example, and I plead with members of our community to find a veteran and encourage him or her to participate in this testing.”

Hammond said the VA will provide no-cost care for those who test positive, with a 12-week medicine protocol.

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that causes liver inflammation, sometimes leading to serious liver damage. The hepatitis C virus spreads through contaminated blood.

Medical staff will provide walk-in testing for eligible veterans enrolled in VA health care from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 13 at the following locations:

▪ Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System; 400 Veterans Ave., Biloxi. Go to Building 30, first floor, for information in the lobby. Park in the parking garage across from Building 30.

▪ Hattiesburg VA Community-Based Clinic, 5003 Hardy St., Tower B, Suite 402, Hattiesburg

▪ Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System-Mobile, 1504 Springhill Ave, Mobile, Alabama

▪ G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery VA Medical Center, 1500 E. Woodrow Wilson Drive, Jackson

▪ Columbus VA Community-Based Clinic, 824 Alabama St, Columbus

▪ Greenville VA Community-Based Clinic, 1502 S. Colorado St., Greenville

▪ Kosciusko VA Community-Based Clinic, 405 W. Adams, Kosciusko

▪ McComb VA Community-Based Clinic, 1308 Harrison Ave., McComb

▪ Meridian VA Community-Based Clinic, 2103 13th St., Meridian

▪ Natchez VA Community-Based Clinic, 105 Northgate Drive, Suite 2, Natchez

▪ Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System-Eglin Community Based Outpatient Clinic, 100 Veterans Way, Eglin AFB, Florida

▪ Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System-Joint Ambulatory Care Center, 790 Veterans Way, Pensacola, Florida

▪ Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System-Panama City Outpatient Clinic, 2600 Veterans Way (along Magnolia Beach Road), Panama City Beach, Florida

For eligible veterans who are not enrolled in VA health care, VA staff will be on-site to initiate enrollment, or veterans may call 855-574-7286 to complete an enrollment application, or visit a nearest VA medical center or clinic. Veterans can also enroll online at www.vets.gov.

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