On the occasion of World Hepatitis Day on 19th May 2010, members of ELPA and doctors will offer free ALT tests to EU parlamentarians in Strasbourg on 18th and 19th May. “Viral hepatitis and other liver diseases can affect anyone,“ explains Nadine Piorkowsky, President of ELPA. „With this activity, we hope to raise awareness abou. If parlamentarians step forward as an example, nobody should be ashamed to ask his doctor for a simple livercheck.“
ALT is a liver enzyme which can be found in everybody’s blood. An elevated ALT can be a first sign that the liver is being damaged by hepatitis or another liver disease. If there are any parliamentarians with elevated liver enzymes, a doctor will privately advise them on further testing and health measures.
Liver diseases such as chronic hepatitis B and C can be treated efficiently if they get discovered in time. Hepatitis C can be cured, while chronic hepatitis B can be suppressed and controlled. However, as chronic liver infections typically do not cause any clear symptoms, many patients do not learn of their diseases until it is too late. Both diseases can cause liver cirrhosis and liver cancer, which are life-threatening conditions.
On 19th May, MeP’s Alois Peterle and Thomas Ulmer, together with ELPA and EASL (European Association for the Study of the Liver), will host a lunch debate with a round-table discussion for members of parliament. Speakers at the event will be Nadine Piorkowsky (ELPA), Mark Thurz (EASL), Dr. David Mercer (WHO Europe) and Dr. Brian McMahon (US Institute of Medicine). Three years ago, a Written Declaration on Hepatitis C was adopted by EU parliament; also, ongoing EU initiatives such as the Partnership on Action against Cancer have pointed out the link between chronic viral hepatitis and liver cancer. The meeting will discuss what progress has been made since, and how far are we from a Council Recommendation on targeted screening for hepatitis B and C.