Newsbrief: Federal Hepatitis C Control and Prevention Bill Filed 5/30/03

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Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) filed the first congressional response to the nation's Hepatitis C epidemic on May 23. The Hepatitis C Epidemic Control and Prevention Act (SB 1143) would set up a comprehensive program for Hep C public awareness campaigns, screening and counseling, early detection, professional education, and research. The program would be administered by the Department of Health and Human Services and would support state and local Hep C agencies in implementing programs.

With some four million Americans infected by the Hep C virus, the disease is the most common blood-borne viral infection in the United States. Nearly 15,000 die from Hep C annually, a figure that is expected to triple by 2010, according to the National Hepatitis C Advocacy Council (NHCAC), an organization of 22 Hep C groups from across the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly half of all cases are related to injection drug use.

"This is a major step in achieving a key goal of NHCAC: increasing financial and infrastructure support for the delivery of hepatitis C prevention, education, and patient care services at a level commensurate with the impact of this disease," said NHCAC president Lorren Sandt in a press release lauding the move. "Chronic hepatitis C is completely preventable with sound public health policy in place."

The bill already has bipartisan support, with cosponsors including Sens. Tom Daschle (D-SD), Joe Biden (D-DE), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), John Breaux (D-LA), Hilary Clinton (D-NY), Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Tim Johnson (D-SD) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) on the Democratic side, Ben Campbell (R-CO) and Jon Cornyn (R-TX) for the GOP, and independent James Jefford (I-VT). A companion bill will be introduced in the House in coming weeks.

Read the bill online at:

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Issue #289, 5/30/03 Editorial: For Decency's Sake, No More No-Knock Drug Raids | Canadian Government Introduces Cannabis Decriminalization Bill | Ed Rosenthal to be Sentenced Wednesday -- Could Escape Mandatory Minimum as Pleas for Leniency Roll In, Supporters Prepare to Rally | DRCNet Book Review: "Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use," by Jacob Sullum (Tarcher & Putnam, 24.95 HB) | Democratic Presidential Contender Endorses Medical Marijuana -- Ohio's Kucinich First Out of the Gate | Saying Yes: New Book Offer from DRCNet | Action Alerts: Medical Marijuana, HEA Drug Provision, Global Legalization and Drug Treaty Reform Petition | Newsbrief: NYPD Under Fire in Death of Woman in Botched Drug Raid | Newsbrief: Federal Hepatitis C Control and Prevention Bill Filed | Newsbrief: Mississippi Drug Czar Not One to Let the Law Get in His Way | Newsbrief: The Hash Fields of Morocco | Newsbrief: Dutch Coffee Shops Take Hit in Anti-Tobacco Campaign | Newsbrief: New Zealand to War on Evil Meth | Newsbrief: Garcia Marquez Takes Back His Legalization Comments, Sort Of | Newsbrief: Gambian Narcs Mar Marley Remembrance with Raids | Newsbrief: Japanese Author, Legalization Advocate Gets Suspended Sentence for Marijuana Possession | Reflections Seeking Submissions for Special Issue on Prison | The Reformer's Calendar

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