AASLD Applauds Landmark IOM Study That Shows the Path to Eradicate Hepatitis B and C

Jan 11, 2010, 13:24 ET from AASLD

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Jan. 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Association for the Study of Liver Disease (AASLD) today reacted favorably to the release by they Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the report of "Hepatitis and Liver Cancer: A National Strategy for Prevention and Control of Hepatitis B and C." This landmark study evaluated the burden from viral hepatitis and current preventive and management practices and recommended ways to reduce new cases of hepatitis B and C and morbidity and mortality from chronic disease.

"We welcome this report," said Dr. Arun Sanyal, President of AASLD, adding, "It is an important first step in the effort to eradicate hepatitis B and C." AASLD has long advocated for a comprehensive national program to prevent new infections and limit the spread of infection through early identification and treatment of infected individuals. This will reduce the burden of end stage liver disease and liver cancer, which are projected to kill about 150000 Americans according to the IOM report.

"We will continue to work closely with the Division of Viral Hepatitis within the CDC, National Institutes of Health, Department of Veterans Affairs, and other federal and state agencies to act on the recommendations of the IOM report," Dr. Sanyal continued. "Specifically, AASLD and its membership will remain the vanguard in the development of new knowledge and educational programs on viral hepatitis that will advance the recommendations of the IOM."

Among the key findings by the IOM are that one in fifty Americans has viral hepatitis and the majority of such individuals remain unaware of their disease. While some populations are disproportionately affected, individuals from all segments of society can get the disease. A relative lack of funding for disease surveillance and educational efforts is a major barrier towards eradication of hepatitis B and C.

Among the recommendations made by the nonpartisan, scientific panel are that major new efforts must include increased funding for research and education of the population, policy makers, and the medical community. In addition, the IOM recommends that there be new, adequately funded programs for surveillance and identification of those with viral hepatitis.

In anticipation of the IOM report, AASLD has planned a focused symposium in collaboration with the CDC to determine novel strategies to educate the community and to reduce the impact of viral hepatitis on society at AASLD's Annual Meeting in October 2010.

AASLD supports "The Viral Hepatitis and Liver Cancer Control and Prevention Act," introduced in Congress by Representatives Mike Honda (D-CA) and Charles Dent (R-PA). It will continue to advocate for additional legislative efforts to implement the recommendations of the IOM and to ensure that all Americans with viral hepatitis have access to affordable and effective treatments.

Finally, AASLD will work with sister societies and community-based organizations to develop educational materials to increase awareness of viral hepatitis and promote surveillance and immunization.

AASLD is the premier liver organization that is dedicated to the study of the liver and the diseases that affect the liver. Eradication of viral hepatitis is an important long-term goal for the AASLD.

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    Media Contact:
    Gregory Bologna