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“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”

  


 

Hepatitis C Origin Points to Possible Military Link


Crime/Corruption Breaking News News Keywords: ASKEL5@HOTMAIL.COM
Source: Forward Times (via Hep C Info 3)
Published: Sneak Preview 11/26/99 Author: Ed Wendt
Posted on 11/27/1999 09:13:31 PST by Askel5

Hepatitis C Origin Points to Possible Military Link
DOCUMENTS RAISE QUESTIONS ABOUT
VIETNAM ERA EXPERIMENTS

ED WENDT
Copyright 1999 by Forward Times

Documents obtained by Forward Times under the Freedom of Information Act, for an investigation of the hepatitis C epidemic, reveal that U.S. servicemen were used to test experimental vaccines while they were in Basic Combat Training during the Vietnam Era.

Responses to the request by the Department of Defense indicate that soldiers at major U.S. military training bases during the late 1960s and 1970s were used to test vaccines for spinal meningitis and other diseases.

Hepatitis, not Hepatitis C, was a serious medical condition for military personnel during the Vietnam War.  Thousands of servicemen contracted the disease and the Pentagon was determined to do something about it to resolve a drain on combat readiness.

Forward Times, under the Freedom of Information Act, requested the following:

*   Any information, documents, research reports, and records pertaining to experimental and/or test vaccines administered to trainees in Basic Combat Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri in 1970 for spinal Meningitis and hepatitis.

*   The criteria in which trainees were selected for said vaccines, and details of any follow up done by the Department of the Army on the soldiers who participated in the vaccinations.

*   Any studies and research on Hepatitis C contracted by soldiers in the United States Army.

  


 

The information on studies and research on Hepatitis C were sought in response to fears by some veterans that Hepatitis C could have evolved from Pentagon experiments on servicemen to find a vaccine for hepatitis during the Vietnam War.

The Department of Defense responded to the Forward Times request only after intervention by U.S. Representative Gene Green, D-Houston.

The Pentagon revealed that the Office of the Surgeon General of the Army established a "hepatitis C registry" during the early 1990s.

But the Department of Defense, according to the response, "discontinued the hepatitis C virus diseases registry on October 21, 1993 after concluding that the "infection rates among Army personnel were low, about one percent."

According to the response, the Pentagon concluded "that hepatitis C did not constitute a significant drain on either personnel or medical resources.  The Department of Defense admitted that "the registry was neither complete nor a truly random sample."

The response, written by Anne Johnson-Winegar, stated that the original intent of the registry was to:

*   "Maintain a list of individuals who had tested positive for hepatitis C virus antibodies in order to evaluate screening tests."

*   "Track the natural progression of hepatitis C virus and infection and disease in soldiers and other beneficiaries."

*   "Attempt to assess the impact of hepatitis C virus disease on military personnel and readiness."

*   "Establish a database of infected persons who could be followed over time."

"Data was collected from May 1990 through October 1993," said Johnson-Winegar.  "Data was collected from medical treatment facility blood banks and clinical laboratories, from prevention medicine services, and from the references at WRAIR.  The reporting of patient data by the preventative medicine services was mandated by OTSG, but compliance varied from post to post.  In the absence of patient data from preventative medical resources, only hepatitis C virus antibody tests results were known for an individual."

  


 

While the Pentagon disbanded the hepatitis C registry for military personnel in 1993, after concluding that the infection rate was only one percent, recent studies indicate that military veterans have the highest hepatitis C rate in the nation.

Statistics by the American Liver Foundation show that 1.8 percent of the U.S. population is Hepatitis C positive.  Twelve to 14 percent of those infected are veterans.

African-Americans, at 3.2 percent, are the largest infected ethnic group, followed by Mexican-Americans with 2.1 percent, and 1.5 percent for whites.

More than four million Americans have hepatitis C.  It is estimated that 300,000 of those who have tested positive contracted the virus through blood transfusions they received before 1992.

Government officials are being urged to mobilize health resources to educate the public on hepatitis C.  Houston City Council, among other agencies, is being targeted to adopt education and outreach programs on the virus.

The governor of New York recently signed into law Assembly Bill 86868. The legislation directs the commissioner of health to develop educational materials on diagnosis, treatment and prevention of hepatitis C for health care professionals and persons at high risk.

Hepatitis C warriors are urging other political subdivisions, including the city of Houston, to adopt similar measures.

Inquiries reveal that the Houston Health Department is doing very little to educate the public on hepatitis C.

Veterans’ organizations throughout the nation are mobilizing to combat hepatitis C and to lobby governmental entities to launch an all-out war against the disease.

Many veteran victims are concerned that Vietnam Era soldiers, who received blood transfusions for wounds on the frontlines of the war, may have contacted the virus through contaminated transfusions and spread the disease upon returning home and becoming part of society.

Hepatitis C was not identified until 1989.  However, blood samples of American servicemen taken in 1948 were recently reviewed during a study. Those samples detected the hepatitis C virus.

California, like New York, is cracking down on hepatitis C. A California Senate hearing recently revealed that little action has been taken by the state to stop the spread of the killer virus which is expected to kill more people than AIDS.

Center for Disease Control statistics provided to the panel revealed that minority groups are more at risk for hepatitis C.

CDS statistics show that California ranks first in the hepatitis C prevalence rate.  Texas ranks second, New York ranks third, and Florida ranks fourth.

Studies prevented to the panel indicated that if detected early enough, about 40 percent of hepatitis C patients successfully respond to treatment.  However, most infected people are not aware that they have hepatitis C until irreversible liver damage has occurred.

The studies concluded that even for those who do not respond to treatment, it is important that they become aware, because there are interventions that can significantly slow down the progression of hepatitis C damage to the liver by abstaining from drinking alcoholic beverages and making sure they are immunized to protect from hepatitis A and B.