2009 Congressional Briefing - Chronic Viral Hepatitis: A Liver Cancer Story

April 28, 2009

The Hepatitis B Foundation, in collaboration with Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO) and National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable (NVHR), is sponsoring a congressional briefing on World Hepatitis Day to raise awareness that chronic viral hepatitis is an enormous health problem that impacts 6 million Americans (and 600 million people worldwide) and results in end-stage liver disease and fatal liver cancer.

Date: Tuesday May 19, 2009
Time: 8:30 – 10:00 am
Location: Rayburn Building, Room B-340, Washington, DC
Cost: FREE

Everyone is welcome to attend this Free Congressional Briefing in recognition of World Hepatitis Day and May as National Hepatitis Awareness Month!

* Congressmen Mike Honda (CA) and Congressmen Charles Dent (PA)

* Timothy M. Block, Ph.D., Co-Founder and President, Hepatitis B Foundation and Professor, Drexel University College of Medicine
* Jeffrey Caballero, MPH, Executive Director, Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations
* Chris Taylor, Chair, National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable, and Sr. Program Manager, Viral Hepatitis, National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors

* John Ward, M.D., Director, Division of Viral Hepatitis, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
* John Niederhuber, M.D., Director, National Cancer Institute
* Ira Jacobson, M.D., Chief, Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Weill-Cornell Medical College

* Shannon Morris, Personal Family Testimony

The Hepatitis B Foundation (HBF), in collaboration with the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO) and the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable (NVHR), will sponsor a Congressional briefing on May 19, 2009 to focus on “Chronic Viral Hepatitis: A Liver Cancer Story”. The goal is to bring attention to the fact that chronic hepatitis B and hepatitis C infections are a silent epidemic in the U.S. and the leading cause of liver cancer, which significantly impacts Americans and is one of the few cancers with 5-year survival rate only 10%.

According to the National Cancer Institute, liver cancer is one of the fastest growing cancers in the U.S. during a time when the overall incidence of cancer has stabilized -- and in many cases declined. Primary liver cancer is the 8th leading cause of cancer death among Caucasians in the U.S. and the 3rd leading cause of cancer death among Asian Americans. Millions of Americans are living with chronic viral hepatitis which leads to premature death from end-stage liver and/or fatal liver cancer. Currently, it is estimated that there are up to 6 million Americans chronically infected with the hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV). Due to the lack of a robust national chronic viral hepatitis surveillance system, many research, public health, and advocacy organizations, including the Hepatitis B Foundation, believe that these estimates are much lower than the actual burden of disease.

Despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine, there continue to be almost 50,000 new HBV infections each year in the U.S., with the greatest incidence among young adults between 19-49 years. Also alarming is the fact that up to 50% of Americans infected with HBV and 75% of Americans infected with HCV are unaware of their status. In addition, as many as 30% of Americans infected with HIV are co-infected with HCV, and up to 10% are co-infected with HBV. Even more disturbing, 15,000 or more Americans die each year of chronic viral hepatitis related diseases.

Chronic viral hepatitis must be addressed as an urgent national health priority. It is essential to raise awareness about the critical need for improved education, prevention, and screening. Most important, increased support is required for the care and treatment of the 6 million Americans chronically infected with hepatitis B and C who, without national intervention, will die prematurely from preventable and controllable liver diseases.

* Chronic viral hepatitis is a “silent epidemic” with up to 6 million Americans (and 600 million people worldwide) chronically infected with either the hepatitis B or hepatitis C virus.
* Chronic viral hepatitis is the leading cause of primary liver cancer, which is one of the fastest growing cancers in the U.S. and the 8th leading cause of cancer death in Caucasians and the 3rd leading cause of cancer deaths in Asian Americans.
* Chronic viral hepatitis results in an estimated 15,000 deaths annually from end-stage liver disease or liver cancer.
* Increased public health attention and federal resources are needed to improve and expand currently available chronic viral hepatitis prevention, treatment and research programs to significantly decrease the morbidity and mortality of end-stage liver disease and liver cancer.

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. For more information, please visit www.hepb.org or call (215) 489-4900.