NVHR: Kerry Legislation Urgently Needed To Modernize Public Health Response to Chronic Viral Hepatitis Epidemic

August 5, 2010

WASHINGTON, Aug. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Legislation introduced today by Senator John Kerry, “The Viral Hepatitis and Liver Cancer Control and Prevention Act,” would transform our nation’s approach to identifying and treating chronic viral hepatitis B and C and is urgently needed to prevent a looming tidal wave of fatal cases costing our health care system tens of billions of dollars annually by 2024, the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable (NVHR) said today. NVHR is the national coalition of public, private, and voluntary organizations dedicated to reducing the incidence of infection, morbidity, and mortality from viral hepatitis.

“On behalf of over 5 million Americans infected with chronic viral hepatitis, we very much appreciate Senator Kerry’s leadership and are gratified to have his support,” said Ms. Lorren Sandt, NVHR Chair and Executive Director of Caring Ambassadors Program, based in Portland, OR. “Senator Kerry’s legislation is urgently needed to modernize our nation’s public health response to chronic viral hepatitis. Screening and early intervention are critical to achieving better outcomes for infected patients and must be a national priority. Otherwise, our system will incur – each and every year — thousands of avoidable deaths and billions of dollars in unnecessary costs.”

“Viral hepatitis is a silent killer,” Senator John Kerry said in introducing the legislation. “Most people don’t even know they have hepatitis until it causes liver damage or even cancer years after the initial infection. We can easily avoid these needless tragedies with prevention, surveillance programs, and by educating Americans about this deadly disease. The bill I’m introducing today will help create a national strategy to combat and prevent hepatitis, hopefully ending this silent affliction’s often deadly consequences.”

The legislation authorizes funding of nearly $600 million over the next five years to direct the HHS Secretary to develop a national strategy to prevent and control viral hepatitis. The Kerry legislation is supported by at least 102 community-based organizations from coast to coast that provide viral hepatitis counseling, screening, and treatment programs. A copy of the letter the groups sent to Senator Kerry is attached. The Kerry bill is the companion to bipartisan legislation pending in the US House of Representatives, HR 3974, which currently has 61 cosponsors.

SOURCE National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable

Source: newswire

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