Bill Allen admitted he started using drugs at 14 and several years
later was drafted into the Vietnam War, where he continued to drink and
He has been clean and sober for more than 25 years but after hearing
from a lot of friends who had contracted Hepatitis C, he decided to get
In 2000 he said learned he did have the virus, but was still pretty
healthy although his liver had early signs of cirrhosis. His doctor
tried a variety of different medications, but he did not respond to
"My doctor told me to keep living a healthy life and don't drink and don't do drugs," he said.
Allen had he continued to be symptom free but about a year ago he
tried new drugs to fight Hepatitis C. Tests show he is now free of the
This week he joined with a variety of veterans' organizations and advocates to warn other Vietnam Veterans that they have a higher chance of contracting Hepatitis C during the war and should be tested.
"Ten percent of Vietnam Veterans could have Hepatitis C," said Jodi
Reese, a clinical educator who spoke about the disease to a group of
veterans at the Chicopee Senior Center.
Hepatitis C is a virus found in the blood. It generally comes with few symptoms but can seriously damage the liver over time.
"There was a lot of blood in the war," she said. People used
intravenous drugs, got tattoos and, if someone was injured, no one put
on gloves before trying to help him.
In addition, troops heading to Vietnam were lined up to be vaccinated
for multiple diseases. Nurses or doctors used a gun-like device to
inoculate the large number of people and medical experts believe there
was likely blood carried from one person to the next on the device, she