Our Advocacy Efforts on Behalf of People with Hepatitis B
"Double the Federal Funding" Campaign for Hepatitis B and Liver Cancer
The Hepatitis B Foundation (HBF) is leading the charge in a national advocacy campaign to Double the Federal Funding within five years for hepatitis B and liver cancer research and public health. Washington leaders are listening. We have their ear. What we need now is a loud, strong and visible hepatitis B advocacy presence.
Currently, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) will spend only $49 million in 2016-2017 on hepatitis B research programs. A targeted federal research commitment has made a significant difference for HIV/AIDS, which is currently funded at $3 billion. By doubling the NIH budget to $100 million for hepatitis B, we have a good chance of success in finding a cure in the next 5 to 10 years.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will spend less than $10 million in 2016-2017 on hepatitis B public health programs. A targeted federal public health commitment has also made a significant difference for HIV/AIDS, which is currently funded at almost $900 million. By doubling the CDC budget to $20 million for hepatitis B, we have a much better chance of increasing access to life-saving screening, prevention and referral to care services.
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Other Advocacy Efforts
Imagine not being able to pursue a lifelong dream of becoming a healthcare professional because of a chronic hepatitis B infection. For most people, hepatitis B related discrimination is seen as a problem outside the U.S. The HBF, however, spent years helping individuals either denied admission to medical/dental/nursing schools, or threatened with dismissal from their training programs because of a chronic hepatitis B diagnosis. This personal story describes the experience of one of the people that we helped.
In 2011 HBF mobilized support from national leaders and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to address the growing problem. The CDC responded and published updated Recommendations for Hepatitis B Infected Healthcare Providers and Students (July 2012), which clearly state that hepatitis B is not a reason to deny or dismiss a person from studying or practicing a healthcare profession.
These new CDC recommendations became the cornerstone of the landmark hepatitis B settlement by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2013, which successfully made hepatitis B a protected condition under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Following this ruling, a federal letter prohibiting hepatitis B discrimination was sent to ALL health related schools in the U.S. regarding the illegality of hepatitis B discrimination.
In recognition of the HBF’s key role in addressing hepatitis B-related discrimination, HBF executive director and co-founder Ms. Joan Block was honored by the White House for her advocacy success and the resulting protection now provided by the ADA for individuals living with chronic hepatitis B infection in the United States.
National Advocacy Highlights
- HBF helped organize the first joint Hepatitis on the Hill visits to members of Congress in March 2015, which was held again in March 2016. This event brings together more than100 hepatitis advocates to Washington, DC, where patients and family members can share their stories to put a human face on the devastating impact of hepatitis B and C. The primary goal of these Hill visits is to urge our elected officials to increase federal funding to provide better services for those affected and to find a cure for hepatitis B.
- The WHO designated July 28 as World Hepatitis Day, which is the birth date of Dr. Baruch S. Blumberg. Dr. Blumberg is a Co-Founder of the HBF and Nobel Prize winner for his discovery of the hepatitis B virus. In 2015, a White House Briefing was held to commemorate this day where national leaders, including HBF executive director and co-founder Joan Block, were honored for advancing the goals of the U.S. National Viral Hepatitis Action Plan.
- HBF leaders - Dr. Robert Gish, HBF medical director, and Dr. Chari Cohen, HBF director of Public Health – provided expert testimony for A National Strategy for the Elimination of Hepatitis B and C in the United States, being prepared by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (formerly known as the ‘Institute of Medicine’). This is a two-part report scheduled for release in 2016 and 2017.