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SILVER SPRING, MD | May 4, 2016– A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), underscores the urgency of hepatitis testing and screening especially among Baby Boomers and other the hard to reach, hard to treat (HRHT) individuals.

The study published online in Clinical Infectious Diseases, indicates annual hepatitis C (HCV) related mortality in 2013 surpassed the total combined number of deaths from 60 other infectious diseases including HIV, pneumococcal disease, and tuberculosis.

Based upon preliminary 2014 surveillance data from the CDC, Hepatitis C deaths reached a record high of 19,659 in 2014. Death certificates were used which often underreport HCV, and this suggests the likelihood of even more hepatitis C-related deaths occurred than these numbers suggest.  Dr. John W. Ward, M.D., Director of CDC’s Division of Viral Hepatitis stated, “Due to limited screening and underreporting, we estimate the number of new infections is around 30,000 cases per year.”

The greatest HCV burden falls on Baby Boomers (those born from 1945 to 1965). Individuals infected with HCV do not present symptoms of infection for many years and unknowingly live with the infection without accessing treatment. Without diagnosis and treatment, they increasingly suffer from liver cancer and other life-threatening hepatitis C-related diseases, and they may unknowingly transmit the disease to others.

Preliminary surveillance data also highlight the new incidences of hepatitis C infections among people who inject drugs. HCV has more than doubled increasing to 2,194 reported cases in 2014 up from 2010 data. These new cases were predominantly among young, white individuals with a history of injection drug use, living in rural and suburban areas of the Midwest and Eastern United States (U.S.).

Dane Christiansen, Vice Chair, HFI  said, you could call the report yet another wake up call for policymakers that will hopefully enhance efforts to eliminate barriers to accessing healthcare and therapies, particularly for HRHT communities.”

With the advent of liver cancer deaths increasing faster than any other type of cancer in the U.S. as reported in the Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975–2012, Karen WIrth, Chair, HFI stated, “HFI continues to emphasize a more concerted effort to not only identify, efficiently diagnose, and treat those with viral hepatitis no matter what their stage of disease progression. These steps will decrease these tragic HCV related deaths in the U.S.”.

Ivonne Cameron CEO, HFI stated, the Hepatitis Foundation International’s (HFI) mission has been and remains the eradication of viral hepatitis in the U.S. and abroad. We stand committed to assuring the loss of life for individuals, patients and their families from these preventable and curable diseases cannot continue.  HFI is launching a number of new programs, services and tools during May, Hepatitis Awareness Month 2016 to redouble our efforts in the fight against viral hepatitis.”

About HFI

The Hepatitis Foundation International (HFI) is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization established in 1994 working to eradicate chronic hepatitis for 550 million people globally. HFI is dedicated to increasing and promoting health and wellness; reducing the incidence of preventable liver-related chronic diseases, and lifestyles that negatively impact the liver.  Some of these diseases include: obesity, diabetes, hepatitis, substance abuse, HIV/AIDS, cardiovascular disease and fatty/liver cancer.  The HFI reaches well over 5 million patients and health care professionals annually through our public and private partnerships (www.HepatitisFoundation.org).