FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Hepatitis B Foundation Co-Sponsors Library of Congress Symposium on HIV and Hepatitis B in Washington, D.C.
DOYLESTOWN, PA (May 11, 2007) –Distinguished health and medical experts from the Hepatitis B Foundation in Bucks County, Pa., participated in a symposium addressing critical issues on the challenges of developing an HIV vaccine and ensuring the eradication of Hepatitis B, on May 10 at the Library of Congress. The Kluge Center held the symposium in partnership with the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) and the Hepatitis B Foundation (HBF), with support from the Dana Foundation.
The symposium, titled “Combating HIV and Hepatitis B,” was held to complement World AIDS Vaccine Day on May 18 and National Hepatitis B Awareness Week, May 7-11. The program began at 9 a.m. on Thursday, May 10, in Room 119 of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. The event was free and open to the public. Although the number of people chronically infected with hepatitis B worldwide (400 million) is not challenged, HBF has suggested that the number of people in the United States who are chronically infected has been significantly underestimated. There is a safe and effective vaccine to immunize people against hepatitis B, but HBF suggests that vaccine-induced “escape mutants” are emerging to threaten current worldwide control strategy.
The development of an HIV vaccine is one of the most important global public health priorities, according to experts. Five million new infections with HIV and three million deaths from AIDS occurred in 2005 alone, with approximately 95 percent of these cases in the developing world.
The symposium was organized by Raymond Dwek, HBF and the University Oxford. Participants from the Hepatitis B Foundation include Timothy M. Block, HBF and Drexel University College of Medicine; Baruch S. Blumberg, HBF and Fox Chase Cancer Center; Molli Conti, HBF; Alison Evans, HBF and Drexel University School of Public Health. Additional participants include: Seth Berkley and Wayne Koff, IAVI; Dennis Burton, Scripps Research Institute; Mary C. Kuhns, Abbott Laboratories; Gary J. Nabel, National Institutes of Health; David Thomas, Johns Hopkins University; Bruce Walker, Harvard Medical School; and John Ward, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The symposium will be cybercast live on the Library’s Web site at www.loc.gov. After May 10, it will be featured at http://www.loc.gov/today/cyberlc. Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world’s best thinkers to stimulate, energize and distill wisdom from the Library’s rich resources and to interact with policymakers in Washington. For more information on fellowships, grants and programs at the Kluge Center, visit www.loc.gov/kluge. The mission of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) is to ensure the development of safe, effective, accessible, preventive AIDS vaccines for use throughout the world. For more information about IAVI, visit www.iavi.org. The Hepatitis B Foundation (HBF) is dedicated to finding a cure and works on important state and federal initiatives that advance hepatitis B as an urgent public health priority. For more information about HBF, visit www.hepb.org. The Dana Foundation is a private philanthropic foundation with principal interests in science, health and education. For more information, visit www.dana.org.
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. It is located in the new Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center of Bucks County, which it created to accelerate its research mission. For more information, please visit www.hepb.org or call (215) 489-4900.