The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation today announced nine new grants totaling more than $3.5 million to strengthen efforts in India and China in the fight against hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection by focusing on the most vulnerable, high-risk patient populations. The multi-year grants were made through the Foundation's Delivering Hope initiative, which has supported more than 40 projects in India and China since 2002.
These new grants align with the World Health Organization's (WHO) strategies for reducing the incidence of HBV and HCV infection through early diagnosis and screening of high-risk populations, including intravenous drug users and patients co-infected with HIV and/or tuberculosis. Several focus on increasing awareness about disease transmission among health care providers who care for HBV- and HCV-infected patients, who also are considered at-risk for contracting viral hepatitis.
Viral hepatitis is an urgent public health issue in Asia. In India and China together, it is estimated that more than 123 million people are infected with chronic hepatitis B and about 60 million with hepatitis C. Although progress has been made in introducing national policies to control the spread of HBV and HCV, community and general awareness is considerably low. When left untreated, viral hepatitis infections result in liver failure and chronic liver disease that can create a significant burden on families and society.
"Delivering Hope continues to increase its focus on HBV and HCV in India and China India, the two countries that have the highest incidence of viral hepatitis worldwide," said John Damonti, president, Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation.
The Foundation awarded grants for the following projects in India: