Viral hepatitis does not discrimate in who it may infect. However it does strike several groups of people with alarmingly high rates per capita. Our American Veteran's, those who guard America's future, are of a particularly high rate of incidence. The website HCVets.com reports that:
"One in 10 US Veterans are infected with HCV", a rate 5 times greater than the 1.8% infection rate of the general population.
Of the total number of persons who were hepatitis C antibody positive, and reported an era of service, 62.7% were noted to be from the Vietnam era and the second most frequent group is listed as post-Vietnam at 18.2%, or those Veteran's in service after that period until now.
It is obvious that Veteran's as a group need to be screened and tested for the hepatitis C virus (HCV) or they are at high risk for complications from the disease as it progresses. Many of these Vietnam era Veteran's are now at such a risk. One of them who did not make it is former Marine Corps Veteran Richard B. Owen who died in 2007 of liver cancer, the leading cause of liver transplantation today, and of which one-in four are HCV positive. (see story)
The Richard Owen Veteran Memorial Ride is a benefit and awareness raising bicycle ride/tour from St. Petersburg to Tarpon Springs, Florida. Originally the tour/ride was to be held over four days on May 13-16, 2011. However, pulling this event together has proven to be a larger task than anticipated and has required us to rethink the plan. This being the first year and beginning event we have decided to limit the tour to one day latter this summer. W will ride the entire Pinellas Trail from where starts in downtown St. Petersburg to the end in Tarpon Springs. This will allow us to concentrate more on the local area for support and engagement in the tour. We will probably have some kind of outdoor event at the finish and invite local participants to speak and rally for support here in Pinellas County rather than try to include the entire state. Please bear with us as we pull this event together. The event will still carry it's message that we can not leave our Veteran's behind, neither on the battlefield or at home. Join us as we spread this message of hope and help for all who are affected bu viral hepatitis.
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