Today I sent an email to some of the state senators and representatives as well as to all of the DFL gubernatorial candidates. I included links to a U. S. legislative bill (H.R. 3974) called Viral Hepatitis and Liver Cancer Prevention and Control Act of 2009.
This is a bipartisan bill that is intended to increase awareness and prevention of a disease that is already afflicting over 5 million Americans. More than half of these Americans do not even know they are infected. This disease is hepatitis C. It's been a political hotcake for at least a decade.
Here's the text of the email I sent them:
Dear Candidates, Senators and Representatives,
As you may or may not know, hepatitis C is a growing concern. As Newsweek reported this week, the Baby Boomer generation is just beginning to find out that many of them have this virus. Please click on the links below and read the information regarding this virus and its implications, including the Newsweek article. There is currently a bill in Congress to address this very serious issue.
For those of you who are DFL gubernatorial candidates, please send me a statement concerning what you will do in Minnesota, as governor, to address this problem. The information I receive will be submitted to the reNEW Minnesota Campaign.
For more information on how this issue affects patients, the disparities involved and what could be done in Minnesota, please contact me at Colleen.S.Morse@gmail.com
Hepatitis C is a virus that is spread only through blood-to-blood contact. Methods of transmission include blood transfusions prior to 1992, hemodyalisis, sharing such personal items as toothbrushes, manicure scissors, tweezers, razors, etc., sharing of IV drug needles even if only one time a long time ago, sharing a straw to snort a drug even if only one time, tatoos received prior to the new laws regarding tatoo parlors, homemade tatoos, health care workers and any other type of blood-to-blood contact.
HIV has always received more funding than HCV even though there are four times as many people who have HCV. This is because activism for HIV funding has been strong and forceful. Currently at least 50% of HIV patients are co-infected with HCV. There have been many marches on Washington to create awareness regarding hepatitis C. Finally there is a bill in the House that addresses the problem.
The entire bill can be found here.
When the bill passses, it will help to avoid tens of billions of dollars in unnecessary health care costs in the coming decade.
"We have a wave of chronic liver disease that will crash like a tsunami on the US healthcare system if we do not address this problem now," said Lorren Sandt, Chair of the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable. "This important legislation will help identify the people who are chronically infected and get them into treatment, which can save millions in future healthcare costs."
Hepatitis C has an incubation period of several decades. People who contracted the virus in the 1960's started having complications in the form of liver disease in the 1990's and 2000's. Hepatitis C can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer and ultimately, complete liver failure. Hepatitis C is the largest cause of liver transplant in the United States.
Here's a link that I sent with my email.
And here's the link to the Newsweek article.
I highly recommend that everyone who may be at risk for hepatitis C read the Newsweek article.
As the gubernatorial candidates respond to me with their answers, I will submit those responses to the reNEW Minnesota Campaign. Since hepatitis C is a gigantic medical issue and is only going to get worse, and since this issue represents such a huge amount of money in health care costs, the responses of the would-be governors is of tremendous importance. We need to know which candidates take this disease seriously and which candidates will commit to having a viable plan to lessen the impact of it on Minnesotans.
If a campaign does not respond, that information will also be submitted. The reNEW Minnesota Campaign's goal is to elect a DFL governor who will adhere to the organization's vision, which includes living in a Minnesota where the inherent worth and dignity of every person is recognized without exception.