WAUPACA COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) — Hepatitis C can be deadly and often goes undetected.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 2.7 to 3.9 million Americans could have Hepatitis C.
The illness has little or no symptoms, so they may not know it.
Nearly 20,000 people died from the illness in 2014.
After recently getting a grant, the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin is trying to make sure that number goes down.
“Before we were limited in the people we could test. Now with the appropriate funding we can expand to other populations,” said Megan Vande Hei, AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin.
The center is using the grant to focus on testing veterans.
“The Vietnam War veterans specifically and potentially just other risks. Injection drug use, blood exposure. We know that Hep C is transmitted through blood, so really that’s where the veterans tie in,” said Vande Hei.
“One in ten U.S. veterans are reported to be affected by this disease,” said Jesse Cuff, Waupaca County Veterans Services officer.
Between 1 and 5 p.m. November 29, the resource center will be testing veterans and others who may be at risk at the Waupaca County Public Health Office on the second floor of the Waupaca County Courthouse.
Vietnam veterans are most at risk because of the high number of drugs and needle sharing that happened during the war.
“We would test anyone who’s ever injected drugs. We’d test anyone who’s had unprotected sex with anyone who’s Hep C positive, any veterans, and anyone born between 1945 and 1965,” said Vande Hei.
“The goal is to get as many folks that are veterans and that are in the at-risk population to come in and get their free test,” Cuff said.
“The purpose of offering the testing is not to figure out you know why they got it but to get them diagnosed and link them up to treatment,” said Vande Hei.