NVHR Press Release: President's Budget Fails to Address Severity of Viral Hepatitis Epidemic

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Contact: Ryan Clary, Executive Director
National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable
(202) 407-2391 | rclary@nvhr.org

President Obama’s Budget Fails to Address Severity of Viral Hepatitis Epidemic
Congress Must Provide Adequate Funding to Move the Nation Toward Elimination of Hepatitis B and C

WASHINGTON, D.C., Wednesday, February 10, 2016 – The National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable (NVHR) today expressed profound disappointment in President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget, which calls for an inadequate $39 million for the Division of Viral Hepatitis (DVH) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This funding level is $24 million less than what the President proposed just last year in his Fiscal Year 2016 budget, and far below what is needed to expand lifesaving hepatitis B and C testing, linkage to care, and prevention services for epidemics that are increasing unabated across the country.
“The President’s budget fails the more than 5 million Americans living with hepatitis B and/or hepatitis C and the many more at risk for infection,” said Ryan Clary, Executive Director. “We are disturbed that the President would walk back his commitment to viral hepatitis services when new hepatitis B and C infections are rising, particularly among people who inject drugs, when the majority of people still don’t know they have hepatitis B and/or C, when hepatitis B and C disproportionately impact communities of color, and when annual deaths from viral hepatitis have surpassed deaths attributable to all other nationally notifiable infectious diseases combined.”
The lack of funding and commitment to address hepatitis B and hepatitis C in a meaningful way, particularly given the exciting and sorely needed initiatives to combat the overlapping opioid, heroin, and overdose epidemics, is not simply disappointing – it is incredibly short-sighted. Continuing a years-long trend, those very epidemics are resulting in shocking increases in hepatitis C (and increasingly, hepatitis B) cases. The rightful urgency felt around the need for services for substance use disorders should not end with addressing only Americans’ drug use – a patient-centered approach demands that we invest in the holistic health of drug using communities as we would any other, inclusive of viral hepatitis.
A substantial increase in funding is a dire necessity if the nation is to implement existing tools available to eliminate hepatitis B and C in the United States. It is also vital in order to meet the goals outlined in the Administration’s own Action Plan for the Prevention, Care, and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis, including expanding hepatitis B and C testing and linkage to care services, halting the emerging hepatitis C epidemic among young persons who inject drugs, ending mother-to-child transmission of hepatitis B, and strengthening the ability of health departments to provide meaningful surveillance and prevention programs.
“NVHR calls on Congress to provide essential increases in funding to fight the hepatitis B and C epidemics,” continued Clary. “We will work with our advocacy partners and grassroots advocates across the country to educate Members of Congress about the urgent need for adequate resources and leadership.”
About the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable
The National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable (NVHR) is a broad coalition working to fight, and ultimately end, the hepatitis B and hepatitis C epidemics. We seek an aggressive response from policymakers, public health officials, medical and health care providers, the media, and the general public through our advocacy, education, and technical assistance. To learn more about NVHR’s advocacy priorities and how you can get involved, visit www.nvhr.org or email us at info@nvhr.org.