Donald M. Payne

Statement on Hepatitis C

Thank you, Chairman Shays and Ranking Member Towns for allowing me to be here today to join you for this very important hearing. Earlier last year the increasing problem of hepatitis C infection was brought to my attention. As many of you know, hepatitis C is the number one reason for liver transplants and is the cause of death for an estimated 8,000 people annually. I was particularly alarmed to learn that the number is expected to triple in the next 10-15 years if intervention is not taken.

However, what raised my concern the most was the high rate of infection among African Americans. It is estimated that 3.2% of African Americans are infected with hepatitis C in comparison to only 1.5% of whites. Consequently, I, along with Congressman Stokes and Congressman Towns, contacted several institutes at the NIH urging them to increase their research efforts in the area of hepatitis C. Therefore, I would like to commend both the Chairman and the Ranking Member for bringing this matter to the attention of this Committee and

Congress in general.

I am especially pleased that you have asked Dr. Carroll Leevy to testify before this Subcommittee today. Dr. Leevy is indeed one of the foremost physicians in the field of liver disease and a leader in my community. His list of accomplishments in the area of liver disease is extensive and admirable. He was a Navy commander during the war in Vietnam, a one time associate of medicine at Harvard University, the founder of the International Hepatology Informatics Group and the recipient of countless awards and honors. His commitment to

improving the health of minorities has endured many years and has led him to become one of the foremost experts in his field. Dr. Leevy is the director and one of the founders of the Sammy Davis, Jr. Liver Clinic at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and a professor at the Medical School Center. He has also been one of the most outspoken voices in educating the African-American community and the larger population about the dangers of hepatitis C infection.

In short, Dr. Leevy has dedicated much of his life to researching the causes of liver disease and helping treat those with liver problems. Therefore, it is my pleasure to have him here today and I am confident that he will supply you with very informative testimony regarding how hepatitis C is affecting my constituency and all Americans. Thank you, again, Chairman Shays and Ranking Member Towns for allowing me to be here today to recognize the contributions Dr. Leevy has made toward fighting the growth of hepatitis C.