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Texas HepPac 2003
Houston Municipal Election Questionaire

September 25, 2003

Texas Hepatitis C Political Action Committee
Post Office Box 3624 Houston, Texas 77253-3624
Telephone: 713-523-6969

Ed Wendt, Chair
Ray Hill, Screening Committee Chair
CONTACT: Ray Hill 713-523-6969

2003 Houston Municipal Election

Hepatitis C is a blood borne virus that infects over 5.8 million Americans, four times the rate of the AIDS virus. It is the leading cause of liver transplants in the United States and infects over 200 million people worldwide. Based on National Institutes of Health statistics, 30 percent of those infected are expected to develop end stage liver disease (1.8 million) with only 5,000 organs available annually for transplant in the United States.  When end stage failure occurs, the patient's only hope is a liver transplant. There is no cure, no vaccine, and the few available treatments are lengthy, expensive, and debilitating.  Early detection, through testing, is essential.

Not surprisingly, HCV strikes hardest at the poor and ethnic minorities, but is non-discriminatory.  All races, both genders, and all socioeconomic levels, are affected by the disease.

As a candidate for the 2003 Houston Municipal Election, we are asking you to respond to 10 questions. Please make your answers brief and to the point.

1. It is estimated that over 5.8 million Americans are infected with the Hepatitis C virus and over 30 percent develop end stage liver disease. Most victims do not know they are infected. The Houston Department of Health and Human Services only began testing for HCV in the year 2000 after pressure from Hepatitis C activists, certain council members, and members of the medical community.  Early detection is essential if Hepatitis C is to be successfully treated.  If you are elected to the office you are seeking, would you actively work to make sure the city does more to educate the public about Hepatitis C? Why? How?

2. Statistics indicate that there are over four persons with Hepatitis C for every person with HIV/AIDS in the United States. Many are co infected. Yet, government, at all levels, is allocating far less money for Hepatitis C than for AIDS education, testing, treatment, and research. For example, during the 2001 fiscal year, around ½ million dollars were allocated by the City of Houston for Hepatitis C testing, education, counseling, and awareness programs. Around $150,000 came from the Texas Department of Health and Human Services. Other funds came from the Centers for Disease Control. No local funds were allocated for HCV. This year the city obtained zero funding from state and federal grants and allocated zero funding for Hepatitis C programs. Budget cuts by the 78th Texas Legislature eliminated the 3 million annually allocated for state HCV grants to counties and municipalities. Should the city do more to solicit private and government funds for Hepatitis C programs? Why?

3. If you are elected to the position you are seeking, what would you do to help improve the city's overall attitude about Hepatitis C?

4. Do you believe the mayor of Houston should appoint a Hepatitis C Task Force to advise the administration, City Council, and Health Department on how to deal with the Hepatitis C crisis as Mayor Lee Brown did when he appointed the task force for HIV/AIDS? Why? Should the task force be independent of the HIV/AIDS task force since Hepatitis C is NOT a sexually transmitted disease? Why?

5. Hepatitis C is the major reason for liver transplantation in the United States, and well over 100,000 people die each year, worldwide, from complications of the virus. It is estimated that the death rate (12 thousand annually in the US) will triple over the next 10 to 20 years unless something is done. Should the mayor, as Mayor Brown did for HIV/AIDS, declare a state of emergency for Hepatitis C? Please explain.

6. Do you believe the administration should make multi-purpose centers, which are located throughout the city, available for HCV support group meetings as well as education and outreach programs?

7. The Texas Medical Center is one of the world's leading Hepatitis C research and treatment facilities in the world. Do you believe the city should have a closer relationship with the Texas Medical Center, especially with facilities such as the Texas Liver Institute at St.Luke's Episcopal Hospital?

8. There are numerous grants available from drug companies and other businesses in the private sector to assist cities in funding education and outreach programs for Hepatitis C. Do you believe the city should better use the private sector for such programs? Please explain why.

9. It is estimated that over one-third of jail and prison populations are infected with the Hepatitis C virus, yet there are few, if any, education, awareness, testing, or treatment programs for inmates. How would you help the Houston Municipal Jail deal with this crisis? Would you like to see a joint venture on this, and other medical matters, with the Harris County Jail and Harris County Health Department?

10. What proposals or suggestions do you have that would help the city better deal with the Hepatitis C crisis?

Thanks you for participating. We look forward to receiving your answers as soon as possible so we can release the information to Houstonians with Hepatitis C and the media.

Screening Committee Chair and Contact

Chair, Texas HepPac


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