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Hepatitis B Foundation strongly endorses the Liver Illness Visibility, Education and Research (LIVER) Act of 2021

Doylestown, Oct. 22, 2021 – The Hepatitis B Foundation strongly endorses yesterday’s reintroduction of the Liver Illness Visibility, Education and Research (LIVER) Act of 2021.

Introduced in the U.S. Senate (S.3041) by Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and in the House (H.R.5675) by Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), the bill takes bold steps to increase investments in research, prevention and awareness activities to address hepatitis B, which kills an estimate 820,000 annually, and to address liver cancer, which continues to grow in incidence and is the second deadliest cancer. Because hepatitis B is a major cause of liver cancer, research efforts to cure these two diseases are linked.

The LIVER Act, which is co-sponsored in the House by Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), will authorize an additional $45 million annually for five years to fund hepatitis B and liver cancer research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and will:

  • Raise the profile of liver disease at the NIH by adding Liver to the name of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) to make it the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive, Kidney and Liver Diseases;
  • Elevate the Liver Branch at NIDDK to a Division and require that the new Liver Division report directly to the Institute Director;
  • Direct the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to issue targeted calls for proposals, including a call for a new liver Specialized Program of Research Excellence for primary liver cancer, and have those proposals reviewed by a new Special Emphasis Panel;
  • Direct the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and NIDDK to issue targeted calls for proposals to focus on research questions identified by the hepatitis B research community; and,
  • Direct NIH to establish an inter-institute working group to coordinate hepatitis B and liver cancer research.

The bill also will authorize an additional $90 million annually for five years to fund prevention and awareness grants at the CDC, including grants for screening, vaccination and treatment for liver cancer, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and cirrhosis of the liver.

“The Hepatitis B Foundation applauds Senator Duckworth and Congresswoman Velazquez for their leadership and vision on this vital issue, and we stand ready to help ensure that this important legislation becomes enacted into law,” said Chari Cohen, DrPH, MPH, senior vice president of the Hepatitis B Foundation.

About Hepatitis B: Hepatitis B is the most common serious liver infection in the world. It is caused by the hepatitis B virus that attacks and injures the liver. Each year up to 1 million people die from hepatitis B worldwide, even though it is preventable and treatable. Hepatitis B is a “silent epidemic” because most people do not have symptoms when they are newly or chronically infected. Thus, they can unknowingly infect others and continue the spread of hepatitis B. For people who are chronically infected but don’t have any symptoms, their livers are still being silently damaged, which can develop into serious liver disease such as cirrhosis or liver cancer.