Hep-C testing offered Saturday at VA clinic

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -- From a life with a virus to a life cured. The drugs to treat Hepatitis-C have become so advanced they're changing the game for those infected, but many people, particularly veterans, are still living un-diagnosed.

If you were born between 1945 and 1965 you're at higher risk for Hepatitis-C.

"I had no idea that I had it until they let me know and at that time there was nothing they could do about it," said Monica Hansen, who lived with Hepatitis-C for 25 years.

At the time of her diagnosis, Hep-C was a scary disease. It meant almost certain liver failure or liver cancer later in life. Today the diagnosis is not nearly as scary.

"Within a week I could feel the difference,” said Hansen, who is now cured of the disease. “It is really almost as exaggerated as day and night difference."

In 2014 a miracle drug hit the market. Harvoni is able to cure Hep-C in just a few months of treatment. It normally costs about a hundred grand for a full regimen, but for veterans the cost is much less expensive.

"They would be paying the regular copay just like any other prescription for the Hep-C treatment,” said Carol Yoon, Clinical Pharmacy Specialist at the Reno V.A. Medical Center.

The Reno V.A. Medical Center has been offering the treatment for about two and a half years. In that time more than 420 vets have been treated with a 97% cure rate.

"It is a huge breakthrough treatment for Hepatitis-C," said Yoon.

Usually a cure for such a virus comes with serious side effects, but these new treatments are nearly side effect-free. More reason to get tested and get treated, says the V.A.

"Now since we have these amazing drugs, and we can cure Hep-C, we want to make sure we grab everyone who is infected with this so we can get them treatment," said Yoon.

The Reno V.A. is hosting a Hep-C testing event Saturday, May 20th at the Kirman Avenue location. The event starts at 10am. Patients can get tested and get results the same day.

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