ALEXANDRIA, VA – The American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) applauds the White House for including a bold five-year plan to eliminate hepatitis C in the Fiscal Year 2024 budget request. We are pleased to support this plan which calls for the acceleration of the availability of point-of-care diagnostic tests, the expansion of access to curative therapies, and the implementation of a public health effort to engage, inform, identify and treat people with hepatitis C.
Over 2.4 million Americans are chronically infected with hepatitis C, and more than half do not know they are infected. Left untreated, hepatitis C will progress to cirrhosis, liver cancer and potentially death. With the availability of direct acting antiviral (DAA) therapies that cure patients 95% of the time and do so with just 8-12 weeks of a well-tolerated treatment, AASLD agrees with President Biden that the time to act is now.
Additionally, we are encouraged to see support for research to identify an effective hepatitis C vaccine that protects individuals from infection and in tandem with treatment efforts puts the United States on a path to eliminate hepatitis C in the population.
“AASLD members are keenly aware of the transformative impact of DAA therapeutics, making hepatitis C a curable condition and leading to saved lives” said Dr. Norah Terrault, AASLD President. “Clinicians across the country have witnessed the consequences of undiagnosed and untreated hepatitis C with patients presenting with cirrhosis, liver cancer and the need for liver transplantation. Thus, increasing the rates of diagnosis and treatment of hepatitis C, will reduce the overall burden of disease in the US and should be a high priority. We look forward to working with Congress and the White House to make this a reality.”
AASLD is already actively engaged in efforts to eliminate hepatitis C, including:
- A virtual Capitol Hill briefing on the White House’s plan featuring Dr. Francis Collins, Special Advisor to the President for Special Projects, on Wednesday, March 15. Dr. Collins will speak on the National Hepatitis C Elimination Program put forth in the budget.
- A North American Viral Hepatitis Elimination Summit in Los Angeles on March 24-25 where Dr. Collins will address plans for an HCV National Strategy and participate in a moderated discussion with attendees.
AASLD is the leading organization of clinicians and researchers committed to preventing and curing liver disease. The work of our members has laid the foundation for the development of drugs used to treat patients with viral hepatitis. Access to care and support of liver disease research are at the center of AASLD’s advocacy efforts.