SAN ANTONIO — Getting treatment for Hepatitis C is critical for those who have it, but even more so for those with other ailments too. 

Vangie Ramirez is a patient navigator with HepVISTA in the University Health System. She told us, "It is a three-year program that is funded by CPRIT. CPRIT is the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas."

The institute helps patients get treatment for and cured of Hep C. Ramirez added, "The struggle is usually to try to get people to their appointments, whether it's to get screened at a lab, or to get a referral done."

She struggled to get Guadalupe Guzman into treatment for two years! Guzman told us, "I wasn't feeling any symptoms. I wasn't sick how could this be going on when I feel fine." Ramirez added, "Hepatitis C is a silent disease as with other diseases, but that doesn't mean it's not progressing."

"An estimated 3 million people in the U.S. are living with Hepatitis C. However, only half of them know they are carrying the disease. About 20 percent of those infected clear the disease without treatment. But with treatment over 90 percent can be cured of the infection with just 8 to 12 weeks of therapy.

Ramirez said, "Medicare and Medicaid, for the most part, will pay for the medication, but as you know, right now Medicaid has certain restrictions. 

A person has to present with a certain F Score. An F-Score, or a Fibrosis-4 score estimates the amount of scarring in the liver. The higher that number, the more likely they will cover the cost of the drug.

Ramirez told us, "It will continue to damage their liver because the liver is an organ that does so much work for us." That's why it is so important for those with the disease to get tested and treated, and if positive be cured as soon as possible.

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