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Positive For Hepatitis C Antibodies; From Air Injectors?

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  • Content Curator/HadIt.com Elder

Hello everyone,

I just got a letter in the mail and don't quite know what to make of it. Hopefully you guys can help.

For the first time in my life I gave blood. I was always denied because I lived in Europe during the early 1990's, during the BSE/Mad Cow Disease time period. They recently relaxed that restriction to people living there for four or more years during a certain time period, but I lived there only 3.5 years during that time. The first time I gave blood was about three months ago and then again a couple of weeks ago. Today, I get a letter in the mail from the organization where I gave blood. This is what it says:

Test Results

Your blood tested repeatedly reactive using the ABBOTT PRISM HCV assay, a chemiluminescent immunoassay (ChLIA) for the qualitative detection of antibodies to the hepatitis C virus (anti-HCV). However, a second similar test, the Ortho HCV 3.0 EIA, an Enzyme Immuno Assay (EIA) and the detect virus detection method (nucleic amplification test - NAT) were both negative.

The test for which you had a positive result is not used to diagnose any infections. It can be positive for many reasons unrelated to your health. Diagnostic testing at a doctor's office would in most likelihood show that you have no infection. Unless you have specific risk factors, we do not recommend that you obtain additional testing from a doctor's office.

Then they go on to say that I cannot donate any more blood for at least six months, and then I would have to also have to test negative to ChLIA too.

I thought to myself about risk factors:

- Never used drugs

- No tattoos

- No piercings

- Mother and father are both negative to HCV

- Married more than once

- No STD history

- Had several surgical procedures (one in the military), but never administered any blood

- Was given only the first of three Hepatitis C vaccine shots. Did not need the other two because I was transferred and never deployed to combat

- When taking cholesterol-reducing statins, like Lipitor, it jacked up my liver and I had to stop taking them

- Never previously tested positive for HCV, but don't think I was ever tested for HCV antibodies

Then I thought back to something I read on here a while back. What about the immunization auto-injectors when I joined the military? In 1990, I was processed in at the MEPS center at Maxwell AFB, AL, and went to Basic Training at Ft. Jackson, SC. I would have to dig through my records to be sure where, but I remember us walking down the assembly line and getting immunization after immunization with those air injector guns and having blood drooling down my arm just like everyone else ahead and behind me.

Should I go to the doctor and get further testing?

I'm already 100% P&T. If I do end up being confirmed positive, would there be any benefits of filing a claim for it?


"If it's stupid but works, then it isn't stupid."
- From Murphy's Laws of Combat

Disclaimer: I am not a legal expert, so use at own risk and/or consult a qualified professional representative. Please refer to existing VA laws, regulations, and policies for the most up to date information.


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  • HadIt.com Elder

Yes follow up. For the best Advice I can give you is to talk to Asknod. This man is the guru on this issue.

Shoot him a PM.

Hang in there.


A Veteran is a person who served this country. Treat them with respect.

A Disabled Veteran is a person who served this country and bears the scars of that service regardless of when or where they served.

Treat them with the upmost respect. I do. Rejection is not a sign of failure. Failure is not an option, Medical opinions and evidence wins claims. Trust in others is a virtue but you take the T out of Trust and you are left with Rust so be wise about who you are dealing with.

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  • Content Curator/HadIt.com Elder

Thanks JB, I am taking the letter to the doc first thing in the morning.

"If it's stupid but works, then it isn't stupid."
- From Murphy's Laws of Combat

Disclaimer: I am not a legal expert, so use at own risk and/or consult a qualified professional representative. Please refer to existing VA laws, regulations, and policies for the most up to date information.


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Absolutely....ASKNOD is the Hep C expert here.....

The very first Air gun Hep C win was years ago.....not many since.

When I got email from another advocate on it, I called Monte Wilson ,Vietnam Veterans of America, the veteran's POA.

Monte told me their sole piece of evidence was a study done in England that associated Hep C with military air guns. I found the study they used but that was on probably four PCs ago.....

There could be an association between your Hep C results and those statin meds:


If a SC medication causes an additional ratable disability, the disability can be SCed as secondary.

This is a large pdf run down of the test that resulted in positive:


But I think you will feel better about all this after seeing your doc.......

And I THANK YOU for donating blood.

I regret I missed the last 2 blood drives here in the boonies. Giving blood is such a positive way to help others. And COMMENDABLE!!!!!

And Vync, you did a great job, comparable to the best job any VSO would do, to go over those risk factors.

BTW,the vet who did win the first Hep C air gun claim had tattoos.

I think the Vietnamese barber in Danang circa 1964 on, might well have contaminated vets with Hep C with his razor.

The scuttlebutt from some Marines stationed at Danang who I know, was that he was a double agent.

GRADUATE ! Nov 2nd 2007 American Military University !

When thousands of Americans faced annihilation in the 1800s Chief

Osceola's response to his people, the Seminoles, was

simply "They(the US Army)have guns, but so do we."

Sameo to us -They (VA) have 38 CFR ,38 USC, and M21-1- but so do we.

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  • Content Curator/HadIt.com Elder

Hi Berta,

I really appreciate the feedback.

I checked the links you provided and the statins I took were a few years ago. I do have some of the common symptoms, but they could overlap with my SC conditions.

I went to the doctor this morning, explained the situation, provided a copy of the letter, and got a few of my questions answered. I explained about the air gun vaccinations and her eyebrows raised. She said that a lot of soldiers have no idea what they are being injected with. She explained having antibodies means I was exposed to the virus. It is possible that my body fought it off, but she had a lot of blood drawn to do more advanced testing and find out were I stand. I expect the results back sometime next week.

I also got to thinking of another potential risk factor. A while back I was using the VAMC toilet and it suddenly 'blasted' me underneath. Yuck. Yeah, last thing anyone would want to happen. I reported it to the closest VAMC nurse and they didn't do anything except tell me where paper towels were located. I went to the same doc I visited today and she did blood work and put me on preventative antibiotice. I am not sure if someone can catch Hep C from sewage.

"If it's stupid but works, then it isn't stupid."
- From Murphy's Laws of Combat

Disclaimer: I am not a legal expert, so use at own risk and/or consult a qualified professional representative. Please refer to existing VA laws, regulations, and policies for the most up to date information.


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Here's the history on Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) where your individual risks are concerned. Doctors and scientists knew about HCV as early as about 1984. The only test then was the Australian Antigens test (AAT). It was like a pregnancy test -yes or no. If it was positive you had Hepatitis B virus (HBV). This is bloodborne, like HCV. A negative result was indicative of Hepatitis A (HAV) which is always transmitted via the oral/fecal route. You get it on your hands and then touch your mouth or its in/on the food you consume (or the one handling it who goes to the bathroom and doesn't wash the hands). Nevertheless, there were increasing numbers of service members and Vets coming down with all the hallmarks of hepatitis-the yellow eyes and skin (jaundice), light clay-colored stools, very dark urine and high blood lab tests on a liver panel. (SGOT and SGPT aka AST/ALT). The ATT said nothing. No hepatitis at all. It was obvious these guys had something. People with HAV get better. Fast. These Vets continued to have high AST and ALT numbers like I did long after service. I tested positive for B on the first ATT in November 1992. My AST/ALT were 138/200 which is off the map. Normal is 10-30 on both. 40 if you drank a lot.

In 1989, Dr. Edwin Southern discovered the single strand RNA of HCV. He'd already developed the Western Blot test addition to the ELISA test to discover HIV. He created the Northern Blot to discern HCV. Fast forward to 1992 when it still wasn't widely known in medical circles. The blood banks were the first to begin testing in early 1992 and the supply was declared safe by December. From then on, anyone who claims they got it from a transfusion had to prove it happened before 1992. Actual commercial testing for this was a crapshoot. They'd give you the Northern Blot test about five times. If you came up 3/5, you had it. By the late 90s they were developing the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test which was very reliable and also much faster.

Now, there are a magic number of you out there who were exposed to it and it probably happened if you were in the military before 1998. Oddly, that's when the DoD suddenly decided that the jetguns were "unable to be proven to be sanitary one hundred percent of the time". After 1998 the incidence of HCV in the military plummeted but according to the VA, that had absolutely nothing to do with the discontinuance of jetgun usage. I believe the disease got into the military during the Vietnam War for several reasons. Many were drafted who had a history of drug abuse but were accepted anyway if they were currently in remission (clean). Going down a shot line is a bloody gauntlet as most know. If a guy flinches, it slices like a knife. Everyone after that got bloody. Sanitary precautions could never put that Pandora back in the box. I believe that in the first Gulf War, another large number enlisted and a few of the more marginal were accepted. True, also, was the large number of Weekend Warriors who served. They got hosed along with everyone else. Again, HCV is a versatile little bug. It can live at room temperature (60s) for three months- even on a dry surface. A jet gun was the Devil's playground for this disease in this environment.

By 1995, scientists were dragging Interferon back off the shelf, which hadn't worked for Cancer or HIV, and trying it out on- who else- Vets (around 1996 in LA). VA started testing Vets without their permission to see what the prevalence of this was nationwide. This began in the mid-90s. When it was obvious the rate was about 10% and as high as 60% of Vietnam Vets, they quit testing. They began again in the 2004s- again- without telling Vets. We've had quite a number who find it in their VHA VISTA electronic records at the VAMC or CBOC Release of Information Office (ROI). They are dumbfounded that VA would not inform them of it. We at asknod.org don't find it strange at all. VA has a storied history of "failing to notice the Vet was at all ill".

​Now, a small minority of you lucky rascals, about 28-32%, actually caught this critter and somehow, by superior breeding in your families, developed an immunity to it. You are a carrier but cannot ever come down with it yourself. You can transmit it to others via a blood transfusion (rare) so the blood banks are rather skittish about taking any chances. You're on the "B" list until there's a national emergency. You've stated all the usual risks, Vync, but there are a few others. Acupuncture, an EMG test with unsterilized needles or any procedure like tattooing where needles penetrate the skin-even cutaneously. Think piercings. Sex has been proven to be a much larger risk than VA would like to admit. If they could make STDs willful misconduct, they'd be happy clams. Look for that some time in the 2020s.

HCV is very linear unless you drank a lot. If so, it occurs faster. There are 4 stages using the widely accepted Metavir scale (0-4). There are 4 grades of speed of progression of the disease. I'm Stage 4, grade 3. Each stage is generally 10 years give or take 2-3. It is determined by a liver biopsy. I got mine from a transfusion Sept. 16ish, 1970. I came down with what appeared to be Hepatitis A 89 days later. Six weeks in the hospital and six weeks of light duty. Hepatitis A, however, generally lasts for about 7-11 days. They didn't have the ATT test at the civilian hospital I was at in 1971. Shoot, they probably only had it in fancy New York hospitals. If I got it (the ATT test) in Seattle in late 1992 from a civilian doctor, the HCV test obviously wasn't out there yet. VA didn't get it until about the mid to late 90s and then quit testing for it as I mentioned earlier.

The best news for last. Gilead Science, Bristol Myers and a hoard of European medicine makers are all on the cusp of an oral dosage that doesn't make you sick, go blind, get DM2 or thyroid cancer. It takes twelve to sixteen weeks and is 95% effective against the most stubborn varieties- Genotypes 1A and 1B. It is still 65 % effective on my type (3A) so that's what I'm striving to stay alive long enough for. The release date is rumored for January 2014. My autoimmune AO diseases make me ineligible for a liver transplant so its Win or Die.

HCV is extremely difficult to eradicate because it's a shape shifter. Just as your body develops a perfect white blood cell to do battle with it, it metamorphoses ever so slightly and the body's defenses can't "see" it to attack it and are forced to begin the attack anew. The new drugs arrest the incubation cycle rather than try to fry the body with Interferon like a napalm strike for a year.

Precautions for you? Don't share your toothbrush or razors with anyone. If you cut yourself, clean up spilled blood with a ton of undiluted bleach. It can only be transmitted via blood to blood such as a person with an open cut themselves gets your blood into their wound so the chances of transmission are almost nil if you observe normal hygiene. And, of course, thank you Vync for your unselfish contribution to America's continued freedom. Many hear the call. Few sign on the line. Fewer return.

Clear Prop



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  • Content Curator/HadIt.com Elder


All I can say is, Wow. That is a fantastic condensed historical perspective and was both very informative and educational.

I hope the new medication will be released on schedule --- and more importantly available from the VA. Additionally, I hope you are first on the list to get it.

Adjusting my risk factors:

- I joined the Army in 1990

- I had an EMG with needle testing last year. I remember curiously watching the the doctor remove the needle from the sterile packaging, which had the brown sterile seal.

I am planning on digging through my records to see if the VA ever ran those blood tests on me.

Last year I signed up for the Million Veteran Program, however due to the usual restrictions of research studies, we will never know the results of any of the genetic/blood screens.

I did spend some time on the VA Hepatitis web pages. They basically tell people to focus on looking ahead to healthier lifestyles and treatment instead of where they contracted HCV. However, I think that is bad advice because vets need to have the nexus to be SC for it, if they got it from the military or the VA. They did go into a lot of details about how it can take 10-30 years before things get really bad, but then they explain that by then your liver could already be half gone too.

"If it's stupid but works, then it isn't stupid."
- From Murphy's Laws of Combat

Disclaimer: I am not a legal expert, so use at own risk and/or consult a qualified professional representative. Please refer to existing VA laws, regulations, and policies for the most up to date information.


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