Senators Introduce Hepatitis C Bill
June 25, 2003
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Texas) and Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) introduced bipartisan legislation last month directing the federal government to develop a comprehensive national treatment and prevention plan for hepatitis C. A companion bill is expected to be introduced in the House of Representatives.
The Hepatitis C Epidemic Control and Prevention Act (S1143) would create hepatitis C awareness campaigns; implement screening, counseling, and surveillance programs; support professional training; and fund hepatitis C virus treatment and vaccine research. The program would be administered by the Department of Health and Human Services and would provide funding and support for state and local agencies.
The bill, introduced May 23, was spearheaded by the National Hepatitis C Advocacy Council, a coalition of nearly two dozen organizations. "Currently, there are few resources for people with HCV," said Alan Franciscus, director of the San Francisco-based Hepatitis C Support Project, a member of NHCAC. "This important legislation has the potential to dramatically improve patient care and support for all communities affected by hepatitis C," he said.
HCV is most often transmitted through needles used to inject drugs, but it may also be transmitted by sharp objects such as razors or unsterilized tattoo and body piercing tools. It is not commonly transmitted by sex. Left untreated, HCV can cause liver cirrhosis, liver cancer and fatal liver disease, usually after years or decades of infection.
Hepatitis C is the leading cause of U.S. liver transplants. Coinfection with HCV and HIV is also a growing public health concern, as research has shown that HIV accelerates hepatitis C disease progression. About 15,000 people in the United States die each year from complications related to the disease, according to NHCAC.
Bay Area Reporter (San Francisco)
06.19.03; Liz Highleyman
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.