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President Obama Demonstrates Strong Commitment
To Fight Viral Hepatitis In Fiscal Year 2016 Budget

 
February 3, 2015
 
Contact:
Ryan Clary, Executive Director
(415) 235-8593; rclary@nvhr.org
 
Christine Rodriguez, Public Policy Manager
(202) 408-4848, x221; crodriguez@nvhr.org
 
The National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable (NVHR) applauds President Obama for demonstrating a clear commitment to address the hepatitis B and C epidemics in his Fiscal Year 2016 budget, released on February 2, 2015.
 
“President Obama and his Administration have shown tremendous leadership in the fight against hepatitis B and C by proposing badly needed increased resources,” said Ryan Clary, Executive Director. “Funding in the President’s budget would dramatically expand lifesaving hepatitis testing, linkage to care, and prevention services around the country.”
 
The President has proposed doubling the resources for the Division of Viral Hepatitis at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for a total of $63 million. This increase would significantly enhance efforts to meet the goals outlined in the Administration’s Action Plan for the Prevention, Care, and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis, including expanding hepatitis B and C testing and linkage to care services, developing prevention strategies to address the emerging hepatitis C epidemic among young persons who inject drugs, increasing vaccinations to prevent mother-to-child transmission of hepatitis B, and strengthening the ability of state and local health departments to provide meaningful surveillance and prevention programs.
 
The President’s budget contains additional vital proposals that would improve efforts to fight hepatitis B and C, including allowing the use of federal funds for syringe exchange programs, allocating resources for new hepatitis C treatment with the Department of Veterans Affairs, increasing funding for programs that address opioid and heroin addiction, expanding Medication Assisted Treatment, and other provisions aimed at improving health care for affected communities.
 
“To address hepatitis B and C adequately it is crucial to approach prevention and care for these epidemics holistically, particularly considering the diversity of populations they affect,” said Christine Rodriguez, Public Policy Manager. “From providing hepatitis C treatment to our nation’s veterans, to expanding proven harm reduction interventions for injection drug users, to ensuring infants receive timely doses of hepatitis B vaccines, President Obama’s proposed budget reflects the complex needs of our communities.”
 
The CDC estimates that 4.4 million Americans are living with chronic hepatitis B and/or hepatitis C. The true number is likely much higher. The majority of those individuals are not aware of their status, leaving them at great risk for advanced liver disease, liver cancer, and death. To date, federal funding for hepatitis B and C has been highly insufficient, resulting in missed opportunities to address a public health crisis. The resources proposed by President Obama are critical to make the progress needed to save thousands of lives and years of unnecessary, debilitating medical complications.
 
NVHR calls on Congress to match this commitment and provide at least the proposed spending levels in the final Fiscal Year 2016 appropriations bill and to allow the use of federal funds for syringe exchange programs, which have been proven to prevent hepatitis and HIV. We will work with our advocacy partners and grassroots advocates across the country to educate Members of Congress about the hepatitis B and C epidemics and the need for increased funding. To learn more about NVHR’s advocacy program and how you can get involved, email info@nvhr.org.
 

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The National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable is a broad coalition working to fight, and ultimately end, the hepatitis B and hepatitis C epidemics. We seek an aggressive response from policymakers, public health officials, medical and health care providers, the media, and the general public through our advocacy, education, and technical assistance.