WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 With today's forthright and valiant announcement by Congressman Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) that he is undergoing treatment for chronic hepatitis C virus, the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable (NVHR) wishes to offer Congressman Johnson, Mrs. Johnson, and his entire family and staff our unwavering support as he works towards a cure.
Congressman Hank Johnson is believed to be the first sitting Member of Congress to acknowledge he is afflicted with chronic hepatitis C virus.
The NVHR is a coalition of more than 150 public, private, and voluntary organizations dedicated to reducing the incidence of infection, morbidity, and mortality from viral hepatitis in the U.S. through strategic planning, leadership, coordination, advocacy, and research. www.nvhr.org
"NVHR and the entire viral hepatitis community offer Congressman Johnson our support and encouragement as he battles chronic hepatitis C virus," said NVHR Chair Lorren Sandt. "In choosing to disclose his condition, Congressman Johnson is helping to propel chronic viral hepatitis to the forefront of our nation's public-health agenda. We are hopeful that Congressman Johnson's announcement will help spur greater awareness about the need for increased prevention, detection, and treatment of chronic viral hepatitis B and C."
In light of this announcement, the NVHR encourages the American people to use it as an opportunity to learn more about the need to address the urgent public health crisis of chronic viral hepatitis B and C infection and to recognize that viral hepatitis is treatable. Hepatitis B is well managed with medications and more than 50 percent of hepatitis C patients are cured with anti-viral therapies. Bipartisan legislation was recently introduced in Congress by Representative Mike Honda (D-Calif.) and Charles Dent (R-Pa.) that would increase federal funding for comprehensive prevention, research, and medical management referral programs for chronic viral hepatitis B and C infection.
An estimated 5.4 million Americans - roughly 1 in 50 - are afflicted with chronic viral hepatitis infection and most don't even know it. Left undetected and untreated, chronic hepatitis B and C can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer, or liver failure. While African Americans and Asian Americans are disproportionately afflicted with chronic viral hepatitis infection, the diseases infect all walks of life in American society.
In January 2010, the Institute of Medicine (IoM) is expected to release a report on viral hepatitis in the United States that outlines strategies for reducing the incidence of viral hepatitis infection and to mitigate complications in those individuals with chronic infections.
SOURCE National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable