Houston Municipal Election Questionaire September 25, 2003
Texas Hepatitis C Political Action
Post Office Box 3624 Houston, Texas 77253-3624
Ed Wendt, Chair
Ray Hill, Screening Committee Chair
CONTACT: Ray Hill 713-523-6969
CANDIDATE QUESTIONAIRE ON HEPATITIS
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
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
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
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
10. What proposals or suggestions do you
have that would help the city better deal with the Hepatitis
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.