On July 28th, our nation joined others around the globe to observe World Hepatitis Day 2012, acknowledging the need for communities and governments across the world to come together to promote action against this silent killer. Few recognize the devastating impact of the hepatitis B and C disease. If left untreated, infections can cause liver disease, liver cancer and often premature death. Hepatitis B and C account for over two billion infections worldwide, with more than five million Americans currently suffering from the disease. Tragically, two-thirds of those infected are unaware of their status, increasing their chance of spreading the disease.
This past Saturday marked the fourth annual World Hepatitis Day 2012. We join President Obama in recognizing the severe and urgent threat of the disease, it is important that we all work together to bring awareness to this important day.
Each year, about 15,000 Americans die from liver cancer or liver diseases related to hepatitis B and hepatitis C. That’s more than 40 Americans dying every day, with no state or Congressional district in our nation exempt from the disease’s deadly reach. Sadly, we are not doing nearly enough to stem the rising tide. Typically, health providers do not screen Americans at high-risk for hepatitis. There is still no federal funding for core public health services for viral hepatitis. Nor is there any federal funding to educate the public about the risks of chronic hepatitis B and C or get people proper treatment once they’re infected.
We cannot afford to be silent anymore. This is why we call on Congress to pass bills such as the Viral Hepatitis Testing Act of 2011 (H.R. 3381), properly fund hepatitis prevention programs, and promote awareness across the Nation through hearings on the disease’s impact. Together we can help end this silent crisis, but it begins with taking the first steps to increase the awareness and prevention of this disease. ###
The Congressional Hepatitis Caucus is a bi-partisan effort to build awareness, promote early treatment, advocate preventative measures, and push towards a cure for Hepatitis. This Caucus will work with leading health officials, experts, community leaders, and individuals suffering from viral hepatitis to reduce the growing epidemic. The Caucus is Co-Chaired by Reps. Mike Honda and Bill Cassidy; and Vice-Chaired by Reps. Hank Johnson and Charlie Dent.
Ahmed R. Bhadelia
Office of Congressman Mike Honda (CA-15)
1713 Longworth HOB Washington, DC 20515
Learn more about Congressman Honda’s legislative initiatives by signing up for his e-mail updates or visiting online.