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O’Neill Institute launches Hepatitis Policy Project

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WASHINGTON (Oct. 29, 2015) — The O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, a part of the Georgetown Law, announces the launch of the Hepatitis Policy Project (HPP) to focus on issues and barriers of access to effective treatments for hepatitis C. The HPP is led by health policy expert Jeffrey S. Crowley, an O'Neill Institute Distinguished Scholar.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hepatitis C-related deaths are on the rise as are rates of liver disease and liver cancer, which are often caused by hepatitis C.

The agency also says the vast majority of adults infected with hepatitis C are baby boomers (those born between 1945 and 1965) and most don't know they have it. Many were infected in the 1970s and 1980s when rates of the disease were highest.

"It's critical that people with hepatitis C have access to effective treatments to prevent its progression for two key reasons," explains Crowley. "The CDC says the longer infected people live with hepatitis C, the more likely they are to get sick. And, if we experience widespread onset of liver disease and liver cancer, we'd see a tremendous strain on the health care system's ability to treat these diseases in addition to an inability to fulfill the demand for organs that inevitably would be needed for transplantation."

Gilead Sciences Inc. provided a grant to support the establishment of the HPP and the addition of Sonia L. Canzater, J.D., M.P.H., a new O'Neill Institute Associate. She joined the HPP in October after completing an internship at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Canzater will be a key contributor to the HPP's mission to support hepatitis C consumer education and advocacy organizations by providing legal and policy research on key issues.

"Sonia's diversity of experience working in public health, and her legal training gives her the technical skills to help us establish our Hepatitis Policy Project and conduct important policy research that will expand access to hepatitis treatment and services that carry the promise of dramatically reducing the scope of the hepatitis C epidemic in the United States," Crowley says. "I look forward to her critical leadership on these important issues."

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Crowley also serves as program director for the National HIV/AIDS Initiative at the O'Neill Institute.

The O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University is the premier center for health law, scholarship, and policy. Its mission is to contribute to a more powerful and deeper understanding of the multiple ways in which law can be used to improve the public's health, using objective evidence as a measure. The O'Neill Institute seeks to advance scholarship, science, research, and teaching that will encourage key decision-makers in the public, private, and civil society to employ the law as a positive tool for enabling more people in the United States and throughout the world to lead healthier lives.

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