Act Now: Hep. C Needs Attention from Lawmakers | Teen Ink

Act Now: Hep. C Needs Attention from Lawmakers

June 24, 2019
By austinmao01 BRONZE, Potomac, Maryland
austinmao01 BRONZE, Potomac, Maryland
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

A silent killer. A mass killer. Hepatitis C, commonly referred to as HCV, is a potentially fatal virus that burdens the lives of 71 million people across the world, and most of them don’t even know it. So why has so little attention been paid to HCV in the US? It's simple, Congress does not care for the health of drug addicts and poor third world countries. However, with the rise of the opioid epidemic, it is important for our generation to push for increased funding in the development of vaccines and cost-effective treatments for HCV.

 The World Health Organization notes that over 3.5 million Americans have chronic HCV while over 71 million people globally are affected by the disease. Furthermore, over 500,000 people die each year from complications related to Hep. C. That is why Because the disease is transmitted through blood, HCV is the most prevalent among needle abusers and residents of areas with poor health infrastructure and sanitation. Unfortunately, the people suffering through Hep. C often do not have the power, or respect from society, to stand up for themselves and push for research. Drug addicts don’t vote. Third world countries don’t pay taxes. Congress does not care.

Detractors of increased HCV funding often point to the development of successful cures for Hepatitis C, as satisfactory progress in the status quo. Although effective, these cures are out of reach for the majority of people who need it. With a cost of $80,000 to $100,000 per treatment cycle, it is almost impossible for ordinary low-income individuals to complete treatment successfully. The NCBI further calculated that the cost of treatment for the US population suffering from HCV would exceed $310 billion. For perspective, the total spending on drugs in the United States the past year was $360 billion. The cost to treat HCV through current means would be more than 85% of all US drug expenditures for all diseases. That is not acceptable or right. 

Although daunting, HCV is not an impossible problem. With funding and support, the US can tackle this epidemic. For proof, we can look towards the US response to HIV. HIV and Hep. C are remarkably similar. So similar, in fact, that the NCBI reports that 25% of people with HIV also have Hep. C. There is one major difference: HIV research has the support of an extremely well funded and influential lobby with many high profile activists. With powerful political influence, HIV research has always been extremely well funded-- almost $35 billion in just 2019 alone. As a result, there are many cost-effective treatments for HIV that ensure patients a relatively healthy high quality of life, and impressive strides have been made in the development of other related treatments.

While it is important to continue funding HIV research, it is about time for Congress to turn its attention to Hep C. With the well documented opioid epidemic gripping our nation, the relevancy of Hep C. in the public health discussion will only grow. Even now, the amount of people suffering from Hep C around the world is almost double the number of people suffering from HIV. The US health and research budget should reflect the enormous impact of Hep. C in addition to recognizing the potential disaster if Hep C is left unattended.

The author's comments:

I am currently interning in a lab conducting Hep. C research. However, a consistent problem has been the lack of public attention and funding towards these research efforts. I would like to increase public awareness and perhaps inspire people to take a stand for those who are suffering through Hep. C. 

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This article has 5 comments.

黄习珍 said...
on Aug. 10 2019 at 4:15 am
黄习珍, Yangzhong, Other
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施潼 said...
on Aug. 7 2019 at 10:04 am
施潼, Nanjin, Other
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
well writen. this is an important public problem that needs ours attention.

BinGuo said...
on Aug. 6 2019 at 12:13 am
BinGuo, Suzhou, Other
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Your issue maybe the beginning of spring for the Hepatitis C/HCV sufferers. Well done !

glh said...
on Jul. 28 2019 at 11:51 pm
glh, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
Hepatitis C/HCV is a hidden Killer, and I am glad the see you wrote about this. You will raise awareness in the community.

Glen said...
on Jul. 26 2019 at 10:55 am
Glen, Gaithersburg, Maryland
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
Well Written. Made a good point. This is an important public health issue that needs immediate globe attention.