VA Media Relations officer Ndidi Mojay stated in a 2016 news article, “We would consider changing the way we process HCV air gun claims if available science indicated that there was some likelihood that contaminated air guns actually transmitted HCV.”
Currently VA acknowledges the nexus between Hepatitis C and jet injectors as “biologically plausible,” but refuses to comment any further on the issue. VA’s current stance on jet injectors does not preclude a veteran from obtaining service-connection but it does not guarantee it either. Decisions within the Veterans Benefits Administration have been inconsistent on jet injectors. Inconsistent Renderings in VA: Comparing Granted vs. Denied Jet Injector Claims
Yet the VA has recognized non-military exposures, such as intranasal cocaine use, tattooing and body piercing as risk factors for Hepatitis C despite the lack of scientific proof. From 2005 to the present, VA has even acknowledged the lack of scientific data for these exposures upon their website (https://www.hepatitis.va.gov/provider/reviews/transmission.asp).
“There are no conclusive data to show that persons with a history of exposures such as intranasal cocaine use, tattooing or body piercing are at an increased risk for HCV infection based on these exposures solely. It is believed, however, that these are potential modes of HCV acquisition in the absence of adequate sterilization techniques.”
Despite the lack of “conclusive data,” these exposures are listed as recognized risk factors upon VA’s website (https://www.hepatitis.va.gov/provider/reviews/screening.asp).
VA has long held a double standard by recognizing non-military exposures as risk factors for Hepatitis C despite the lack of scientific proof. Yet jet injectors, which were widely used within the military, will not be recognized officially as a risk factor until scientific evidence emerges.
This is a double standard that benefits the Department of Veterans Affairs and not the people it was created to serve—veterans.
However, despite VA’s enigmatic stance, several things remain certain:
- VA has unofficially acknowledged the nexus within its memorandum and by the mere granting of service-connection in a substantial number of cases. Military Jet Gun Injections Transmitted Hepatitis: an assessment of VA claims
- The evidence citing an association between Hepatitis C and jet injectors has emerged, it is now a question of whether or not the VA will acknowledge the evidence.
The above VA links have been archived and can be accessed here: