SOURCE: Hepatitis C Caring Ambassadors Program

December 01, 2005 06:30 ET

Hepatitis C Caring Ambassadors Program Joins High School Students' Rally on Capitol Hill Calling for Passage of Hepatitis C Legislation

OREGON CITY, OR -- (MARKET WIRE) -- December 1, 2005 -- At Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax, Virginia, the students in the marketing association (DECA) are working diligently to change of the outcome of the hepatitis C epidemic. In an ongoing effort supported by the Hepatitis C Caring Ambassadors Program (HCCAP), the Robinson DECA group will conduct a rally on the west steps of the U.S. Capitol in support of The Hepatitis C Epidemic Control and Prevention Act [S521/HR1290] on December 5th, 2005 at 2:30 P.M. A press conference will be held at 3:00 P.M. featuring Ray Benson of the Grammy award-winning vocal group Asleep at the Wheel. Following the rally, the DECA students and other hepatitis C advocates will walk the halls of Congress to press for a federal response to the hepatitis C crisis.

Hepatitis C is the most common chronic blood-borne viral illness in the U.S. Approximately 4 to 5 million Americans are already infected, making hepatitis C 3 to 5 times more prevalent than HIV/AIDS. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 30,000 new HCV infections occur annually. Chronic hepatitis C is a serious, potentially life-threatening illness. It is the leading cause of chronic liver disease, one of the top ten killers of Americans 25 years and older. Hepatitis C is also the leading indication for adult liver transplantation; the number of HCV-related liver transplants has increased more than 12-fold since 1990. Without resources for counseling, testing, and medical referral, HCV-related deaths and long-term complications are projected to increase dramatically by 2020.

The students of Robinson's DECA chapter think the American people have already waited too long for a federal response to the hepatitis C crisis. Recognizing that hepatitis C crosses all racial, age, and socioeconomic strata, the students are engaged in a civic consciousness campaign called, "Putting a Face on Hepatitis C." The ultimate goal is passage of The Hepatitis C Epidemic Control and Prevention Act [S521/HR1290], a bipartisan bill calling for a national hepatitis C control and prevention program.

"The burden of the hepatitis C crisis will fall to the next generation of taxpayers unless Congress acts immediately to intervene. I applaud the DECA students for taking a stand, not only to help the millions living with hepatitis C today, but also in addressing the avoidable burden of this disease in the future," said Lorren Sandt, Manager of HCCAP.

To send a message to your elected representatives about the Hepatitis C Epidemic Control and Prevention Act, go to www.hepcchallenge.org and click on Activist Resource Center.

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