First of all, false positives are a huge problem in the VA system, and next: in 2003, the HCV treatment was Shering-Plough's Rebertron, which was an interferon-based treatment combined with ribivirin (a carcinogen), and it would have made you very sick and even killed you - so you were lucky. In 2000, a national marketing campaign to sell the disease as a way to sell drugs was launched - overselling the disease and overstating the risks - all as a way to sell drugs. Dr. Ronald Koretz of UCLA has been passionate for decades about not treating Hepatitis C because it causes net harm through drug toxicities. He has also stated we should not test for it because of the psychological damage and anxiety of telling clinically healthy people they have a problem that can only be fixed with toxic drugs.
Hepatitis C is a classic example of a surrogate marker scam in medicine. It's diagnosed on the basis of blood tests, and the drugs change the results of a blood test as a "surrogate marker." The problem is in the case of Hepatitis C, the surrogate marker called SVR that is said to be a "cure" has never been validated against clinical outcomes. Also, in the case of Hepatitis C, the tests said to indicate chronic infection have never been validated in vivo - they've only been validated in vitro, meaning many people who are said to "be infected" may not actually have a virus in them, and even if they do, only 1 in five ever develop symptoms - and this after 40 years. When hepatologist Leonard Saeff went back and tested military blood samples stored from the 40's and 50's and compared them to 45 years of VA records, he found no difference in long-term liver disease between the HCV positives and HCV negatives. An Irish study of individuals infected via blood transfusions in the 1970's found that the HCV-positives actually developed liver disease at a rate lower than the general population. In other words, being told they were positive caused them to adopt lifestyle changes (drink less alcohol, etc) that made their liver healthier - meaning Hepatitis C is a multifactoral disease
Regarding the new expensive drugs: the Highly-respected Cochrane collaborative came out with a report that was seconded by the British medical journal that there is no evidence drug therapy will improve your health or extend your life - it just changes the surrogate marker. Also, not one Hepatitis C drug has been clinically trialled against a placebo - just the previous therapy, and in the case of the new drugs, they were associated with a threefold increase of "serious adverse events" over the old drugs - both of which were more toxic than a placebo. Also, all the clinical trials are short - 1-2 years max, which makes no sense with a disease that has a 40-year progression (and science still doesn't have a disease model).
The hepatitis C virus wasn't even properly isolated until 2005, and if it was so terrible, then liver disease would be a common historic occupational problem of healthcare workers - which it isn't. The best way to deal with Hepatitis C is to forget about it, adopt a healthy diet, stop drinking alcohol and using both prescription and recreational drugs, consult a naturopath, and consider intravenous antioxidants such as reduced glutathione. Hepatitis C often cures itself on its own, so you can re-test if you're still worried.
The old interferon treatments were tough to endure for most patients I treated 3 times with interferon based treatment in the 80’s and 90’s.
The new DAA’s came out in 2014.
Someone with cirrhosis absolutely needs to be treated.
I was diagnosed as Hep C in 1990 when I donated blood I got out in 1988
Just better treatments and that treating and curing now is less expensive than the chronic care of liver disease and patients needing transplant is my guess
“ Veterans Health Administration is a national leader in the treatment of the hepatitis C virus. Since all-oral direct-acting antivirals became available in 2014, VA has virtually eliminated hepatitis C among Veterans in their care, treating more than 110,000 Veterans, with cure rates exceeding 90 percent.”
I would say you would have to ask them. But in 2003 there really weren’t very effective treatments for hep C and they were somewhat difficult to endure. Now with the new DAA meds there are very effective treatments available. If I were to guess I’m thinking they now have a greater ability to successfully treat Hep c so they now have an added emphasis to treat veterans even if not considered a service related illness.
I’m an 8 year Army vet but as I don’t have a service related condition or sirves during armed conflict I don’t qualify for VA medical benefits.
Best of luck