13. What are the current and future challenges?
So, what are the challenges? Well, there’s still a lack of understanding
of the risks of chronic infection by both the public and sadly by
healthcare providers. A lot of doctors really are still not very
clear on how you get hepatitis B, how you treat it, how you manage
it. It’s still an area that requires more
education. Then, research is needed to find a cure of
chronic hepatitis B virus infection. You’ll hear more about the treatment of
hepatitis B, but the fact remains that in 2004, we still don’t have a
therapy that is curative. We can manage people quite well, but it’s
difficult to cure them. And so, what I've tried to lay out is that
this is a very large problem and for those of us in the field, we see
that there are not enough research funds to address the remaining
problems. Funding has either plateaued or actually
declined (the federal funding). The likelihood is in the next several years
as the budget crunch really hits, not just this kind of research but
all medical research, funding is going to decline for many
diseases. The National Institutes of Health is going
to be making choices, making priorities, which diseases are favored
and which diseases are not. The ones that are not favored are going to
see their funding diminished greatly. And so this is a critical time where we
think it’s really vital to make the case that hepatitis B is still not
just a very important problem but a major cause of morbidity and mortality
in the world at large and a significant problem in the United States.
12. What are the US risk groups?
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