AASLD and Trust for America's Health Call for Action on Hepatitis B and C

Millions of Americans are living with chronic hepatitis B or C, but many do not know they are infected and are not receiving appropriate care, according to a new report issued by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) and the Trust for America's Health (TFAH). Over years or decades, chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection can cause advanced liver disease -- including liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma -- which is projected to be a growing public health concern in the coming years.

Below is the text of a press release from the Trust for America's Health summarizing the report's findings.

Millions of Americans Are Living with Hidden Epidemics
of Hepatitis B and C, Top Experts Warn

Washington, DC -- September 27, 2010 -- The American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) and the Trust for America's Health (TFAH) issued a new report today calling for action to be taken to transform how the country deals with viral hepatitis -- to help identify millions of Americans who know they are living with chronic forms of hepatitis B and C and to assure access to treatment for all who need it, to prevent even more Americans from becoming infected.

"This report is a critical next step that builds on a recent groundbreaking Institute of Medicine report on viral hepatitis and translates it into a series of action items which will be critically important to control the silent epidemic of viral hepatitis in theU.S.," said Arun J Sanyal MD, President of AASLD.

The report, HBV & HCV: America's Hidden Epidemics, examines how new measures included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) combined with new scientific advancements could be used to spare millions of Americans from developing cirrhosis, liver cancer, or other life threatening complications as they age -- which could also lead to billions of dollars in health care savings.

"HBV and HCV are ticking time bombs. If we don't act now to diagnose the millions of Baby Boomers and others, we'll be too late to spare them from developing serious liver diseases. We'll all end up paying the price, since Medicare and Medicaid will end up picking up the tab for much of the care," said Jeff Levi, PhD, Executive Director of TFAH. "Health reform and new science give us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rethink how we deal with these silent killers."

 

Sources

AASLD and Trust for America's Health. HBV & HCV: America's Hidden Epidemics. September 2010.

Trust for America's Health. Millions of Americans Are Living with Hidden Epidemics of Hepatitis B and C, Top Experts Warn. Press release. September 27, 2010.