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Hepatitis B Foundation Testifies Before Congressional Appropriation Committee and Urges More Federal Funding for Hepatitis B
Date:3/20/2008

DOYLESTOWN, Pa., March 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Hepatitis B Foundation President Dr. Timothy Block testified about the public health challenge of chronic hepatitis B before the Congressional Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services on March 13 in Washington, DC, at the request of Honorable David Obey, chairman, Committee on Appropriations. Dr. Block spoke about the urgent need to strengthen and increase funding for hepatitis B programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

"The recent crisis in a Nevada clinic, where 40,000 people were placed at risk for infection with hepatitis B and C, is a problem that the CDC thinks might just be the tip of the iceberg," said Dr. Block. "This incident highlights critical deficiencies in our public health and research programs, and if we don't act with urgency, more and more people will suffer."

The Foundation believes that a well-equipped CDC is our best hope to manage the public health problem of hepatitis B. Two million chronically infected Americans are depending upon the NIH to search for new interventions to treat hepatitis B and liver cancer, a fatal outcome of chronic hepatitis B and the fastest growing cancer in the U.S. today. Both the CDC and NIH have performed admirably with the limited resources they are provided; however, much more is needed to achieve effective, lasting solutions.

Dr. Block concluded his testimony by urging the appropriations subcommittee to restore in FY 2009 the overall CDC budget to $7.4 billion with a $50 million increase for the Division of Viral Hepatitis, and to provide a 6.7% increase for the NIH bringing the total to $31.2 billion, including a $40 million annual increase for hepatitis B research.

Chairman David Obey was sympathetic and commented on the importance of restoring cuts to the NIH and CDC budget to address important health issues.

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