Hepatitis B Advocacy Agenda Leading the Charge to Double the Money!

The Hepatitis B Foundation is leading the charge in a national advocacy campaign to Double the Federal Funding, within five years, for hepatitis B and liver cancer research. With the downgrading of hepatitis B, evidenced by declining funds at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the CDC, a loud, strong and visible advocacy campaign is urgently needed. Washington leaders are listening. We have their ear.

This past June, HBF arranged for a Congressional letter, led by Senator Maize Hirono (D-HI), and Congressmen Mike Honda (D-CA) and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and signed by 12 Senate and House of Representatives colleagues, which was sent to NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins requesting the NIH to:

“…prepare a professional judgment budget (PJB) that lists and discusses the research and accompanying resources needed to meet the Hepatitis B Foundation’s goal of a cure for hepatitis B and to significantly reduce deaths due to hepatocellular carcinoma from hepatitis B and other causes.”

Over the last five years, funding for HBV research at the NIH has declined by almost 16%. It is now only $49 million. The PJB document, requested from the NIH before the end of this calendar year, will serve as the roadmap for our advocacy in Washington to ensure that the federal government prioritizes funding to realize our goal.

To further increase pressure on Congress, more than 50 community advocates were mobilized by the HBF on July 28, World Hepatitis Day, to make Hill Visits to 25 Congressional offices and advocate for increased funding to double NIH funding to $100 million for HBV to leverage new research opportunities to find a cure, as well as to improve HBV testing and treatment.

Advocates stressed the need for the National Cancer Institute to pursue better treatments for liver cancer and that the CDC should double its funding for direct HBV interventions. There is a lot to be done, but the Hepatitis B Foundation’s new campaign is mobilizing Congressional champions and community advocates to focus on a clear goal – double the federal funds for hepatitis B!

We sincerely thank the RFS Family Foundation for making the lead donation to launch this advocacy campaign and the HBF Scientific and Medical Advisory Board members for their generous donations to support it.

This article was written by Alyson Lewis, Legislative Director of Madison Associates, Washington, DC.