I agree with what others have said. There have been many discussions over the years on this forum about what we can do to increase both the awareness and funding of HCV prevention and treatment. This is an opportunities for us to make a tangible difference for both ourselves and other sufferers of HCV and HBV, many who don't even know they are infected. I will be writing my representatives today saying that I support and they should support the Viral Hepatitis and Liver Cancer Control and Prevention Act, H.R. 3974.
This bill will "implement a plan for the prevention, control, and medical management of hepatitis B and hepatitis C, which includes strategies for expanded vaccination programs for hepatitis B in adults, primary and secondary preventive education and training, surveillance, screening, early detection, and research".
On a side note...Here is San Francisco there has been a campaign to promote the awareness of HBV. Since there is a preventative vaccine for HBV, the campaign also has free Hep B Screenings and free to low-cost vaccinations.
There has been some controversy because the campaign has posters that show 10 Asian beauty queens, for example and asks the question..."Which one deserves to die?" Another ad show 10 Asian health practitioners. Because of the large Asian population here in SF health officials have estimated that 1 in 10 residents of Asian descent are infected with HBV. This contributes to the highest rate of liver cancer in the U.S. (Throughout the rest of the country about 1 in 1,000 people are infected with hepatitis B). In the United States, an estimated 1.2 million Americans are living with chronic Hepatitis B and 3.2 are living with chronic Hepatitis C. Each year an estimated 25,000 persons become infected with Hepatitis A; 43,000 with Hepatitis B, and 17,000 with Hepatitis C.
From personal experience I can tell you that the campaign ads have got many people taking about hepatitis. Needless to say I think this has been positive for all of us with hepatitis. It has put a spotlight on the disease and has made it something people can talk about in daily conversation. Thanks to our city's history of confronting HIV/AIDS, we have an enlightened health care community and many city leaders who are willing to support innovative approaches to health care education and services.
For more information about the San Francisco program google sfhepfree or go to http://www.sfhepbfree.org/
If you have Facebook, you can connect to "San Francisco Hep B Free" and see the ads in the photos section titles "Sightings of 2010 Campaign ads".
Hepatitis is way overlooked. I believe everyone should be tested for it during medical exams,just like you are for HIV.
I think that either the communal voice gets so loud that the politicians can't ignore it as with HIV, I don't think will happen with HCV personally. If the current cost of care for HCV infected people exceeds the cost for treatment, research, education and prevention then I believe our government starts realizing they have no choice but to support our cause. I think this is starting to happen because the larger proportion of us in the US are in our late 40's to early 60's and we have had the disease longer and more of us are getting serious liver disease and non-liver manifestations of HCV.
I have questioned that statement "you'll probably die with it and not from it" for a long time. As more of us have had the disease for a longer period of time, suddenly there are more of us with serious progression. Many of us were told we would "die with it and not from it", and now shockingly after 20-40 years we have progressed from no liver damage to fibrosis or cirrhosis.
We should all be calling our congressional reps to ask (demand) they support H.R. 3974, which is the viral hepatitis bill.
Last year, when that congressman from Georgia (I think, or somewhere in the south) held a press conference around this bill, and his own personal 30 year battle with Hep-C.
Back then, after I read that story, I wrote to my rep (Zoe Lofgren, D-CA16) to ask for her support for the bill. She wrote me back a personal note to say that based on my advocacy, in part, she had decided to co-sponsor the bill. Kinda cool, I thought...
I'm curious to see just how far they will go. My conspiracy theory brain thinks the reason there isn't routine testing for hep C is because of the potential cost to the government to treat Medicare and Medicaid patients. Or the rest of us once health care reform kicks in.
We have that saying here...you'll probably die with it and not from it. I just wonder if they won't feel the same an not cover treatment for all the cases that otherwise wouldn't have been diagnosed if there were no awareness program in place.
Thanks for the link, Barb!
Thanks for posting it. Good to hear this is happening so close to home. We seem to have so a small political voice compared to the numbers infected. It seems like we just don't have a cohesive enough group to make our voices heard the way people with HIV did many years ago.-Dave
Great news that this is getting recognized by our representatives. I hope it leads to some action and not just words. Though I consider myself a conservative, I have to say kudos to the dems for showing this support. It is not surprising that the early support for this cause would come from the liberals or democrats. I wish I could see some support from conservatives also. I hope we will eventually see it from both sides.