FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Hepatitis B Foundation Testifies Before Congressional Appropriation Committee and Urges More Federal Funding for Hepatitis B
DOYLESTOWN, PA (March 19, 2008) – Hepatitis B Foundation (HBF) President Dr. Timothy Block testified about the public health challenge of chronic hepatitis B before the Congressional Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services on March 13 in Washington, DC, at the request of Honorable David Obey, chairman, Committee on Appropriations. Dr. Block spoke about the urgent need to strengthen and increase funding for hepatitis B programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
“The recent crisis in a Nevada clinic, where as many as 40,000 people were placed at risk for infection with HBV and HCV, is a problem that the CDC thinks might just be the tip of the iceberg” said Dr. Block. “This incident highlights critical deficiencies in our public health and research programs, and if we don’t act with urgency, more and more people will suffer.”
Liver cancer, due primarily to chronic hepatitis B, is the fastest growing cancer in the U.S., while most other cancers are on the decline. Each year 20,000 babies are born to mothers infected with hepatitis B, and as many as 1,200 newborns will be chronically infected with the hepatitis B virus. These are two alarming examples of other serious shortcomings in our system.
The Hepatitis B Foundation believes that a strong, well-equipped CDC is our best hope to manage the public health problem of hepatitis B. Two million chronically infected Americans are depending upon the NIH to search for new interventions to treat hepatitis B and liver cancer, a fatal outcome ofchronic hepatitis B. Both the CDC and NIH have performed admirably with the limited resources they are provided; however, much more is needed to achieve effective, lasting solutions.
Dr. Block concluded his testimony by urging the appropriations subcommittee to restore in FY 2009 the overall CDC budget to $7.4 billion with a $50 million increase for the Division of Viral Hepatitis, and to provide a 6.7% increase for the NIH bringing the total to $31.2 billion, including a $40 million annual increase for hepatitis B research.
Chairman David Obey was sympathetic and commented on the importance of restoring cuts to the NIH and CDC budget to address important health issues.
About the Hepatitis B Foundation
The Hepatitis B Foundation is the only national nonprofit organization solely dedicated to finding a cure and improving the quality of life for those affected with hepatitis B worldwide through research, education and patient advocacy. The Foundation is located in the new Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center, which it created to expand and accelerate its research mission. For more information, visit www.hepb.org or call (215) 489-4900.