SOURCE: Hepatitis C Caring Ambassadors Program

May 30, 2007 06:00 ET

Bipartisan Hepatitis C Legislation Reintroduced in Both Houses of Congress

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - May 30, 2007) - The Hepatitis C Epidemic Control and Prevention Act [SB-1445, HR-2552] has been reintroduced into both Houses of the 110th Congress by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Representative Edolphus Towns (D-NY). The Hepatitis C Epidemic Control and Prevention Act mandates a comprehensive federal hepatitis C program to include counseling and testing, early detection, surveillance, education, training, and research. Originally introduced but not voted upon in 2003, the reintroduction of The Hepatitis C Epidemic Control and Prevention Act has been a bipartisan effort. The original cosponsors of the legislation are Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Representative Heather Wilson (R-NM).

Hepatitis C is the most common blood-borne viral infection in the United States. An estimated 5 million Americans are infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV), the most common cause of chronic liver disease and adult liver transplantation in the U.S. Approximately 30,000 new HCV cases are reported each year. Hepatitis C currently kills an estimated 15,000 Americans annually, a number that is expected to triple by 2010 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Increased testing and treatment will curb this dire prediction.

The Hepatitis C Caring Ambassadors Program (HCCAP), a national hepatitis C nonprofit organization, lauds the reintroduction stating that this legislation provides the necessary foundation for an effective federal response to the current hepatitis C crisis. HCCAP Program Director Lorren Sandt commented, "We are at a critical juncture in the hepatitis C epidemic. The hardest hit population is in the prime of their lives. It is essential to diagnose those infected with HCV as soon as possible to change the long-term effects of this disease on individuals and society. HCCAP congratulates and thanks the sponsors and cosponsors of this legislation for taking the lead to turn the tide on the hepatitis C crisis."

The timing of the reintroduction of The Hepatitis C Epidemic Control and Prevention Act coincides with Hepatitis Awareness Month 2007. Events have been conducted across the United States throughout the month of May including Congressional briefings and awareness days in state capitals to inform public officials and raise awareness of the magnitude and severity of the hepatitis C crisis. The World Gastroenterology Organization (WGO) spearheaded the global observance of World Digestive Health Day, Focus: Viral Hepatitis on May 29th. Events were hosted throughout the world to call attention to plight of the estimated 600 million people chronically infected with hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

About Hepatitis C Caring Ambassadors Program

The Hepatitis C Caring Ambassadors Program (HCCAP) is a division of the national nonprofit public charity, the Caring Ambassadors Program, Inc. HCCAP is committed to improving the health and longevity of those living with chronic hepatitis C through information, awareness, and public advocacy.

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