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James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital - Tampa, Florida
Veteran thankful for hepatitis C cure
By Ed Drohan
Monday, October 3, 2016Paul Munroe is happy he’s been free of the hepatitis C virus for more than a year now, and he only had to take one pill a day for 12 weeks to cure the disease.
The 68-year-old Marine Corp Veteran was treated with Harvoni, one of the newer drugs for treating Hepatitis C that have come on the market in the last few years. The new treatments have a cure rate of about 95 percent and few side effects.
This wasn’t his first attempt to beat hepatitis C, though. He’d been treated twice before with a different, much less effective medication and a regimen that included painful injections.
Hepatitis C is caused by a virus and is transmitted through contact with infected blood or blood products. People infected with the virus can be symptomless for decades, but, left untreated, the disease can eventually cause cirrhosis, end-stage liver disease and liver cancer.
Munroe said he has no idea how or when he became infected with the virus, but he is in the group that has the highest risk for the disease, Veterans born between 1945 and 1965. He began treatment the first time not long after being diagnosed.
“The first time wasn’t too bad,” Munroe said, with side effects that were relatively mild. The treatment took almost a year and initially looked successful. Unfortunately, a year after he finished the treatment, the virus returned.
“The second time around the doctor took me off the treatment,” Munroe said. “The side effects were terrible. I got so sick and felt so bad. It also caused problems with my heart medication. I was disappointed because I wanted to finish the treatment.”
When he was told about the new treatment, he was ready to try it. He said it’s the best thing he’s ever done.
“This saved my life,” Munroe said.
Munroe said he’d recommend the treatment to anyone who finds out they have hepatitis C.
“You just take one pill a day,” he said. “I had no problems at all, and everybody I’ve talked to (who has been through the treatment) has been cured and had no problems. It’s been the greatest thing for me.”
Veterans enrolled at the James A. Haley Veteran’s Hospital can ask their primary care team about testing for the hepatitis C virus and treatment options if they are positive for the virus.