Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation Marks World Hepatitis Day 2012 with New Grants Focused on Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C Patient Empowerment in China and India

<0> Bristol-Myers SquibbFrederick J. Egenolf, 609-252-4875 </0>

The has awarded four new grants totaling US $1.69 million to improve prevention, care and support of hepatitis B (HBV) and hepatitis C (HCV) in China and India as part of its ™ program. The grants, announced to coincide with World Hepatitis Day on July 28, support initiatives to empower hepatitis patients to take an active role in disease management and advocacy. This focus on patient empowerment recognizes the significant health disparities that exist in these countries but also the progress that has been made to address them through disease awareness efforts and education targeted to the health care community.

China and India together have an estimated 123 million people chronically infected with HBV and 59 million people chronically infected with HCV, accounting for almost 50 percent of all HBV and HCV infections worldwide. The recipients of the new grants – the China Foundation for Hepatitis Prevention and Control, the HOPE Initiative, the Liver Foundation West Bengal, and a coalition that includes the United Way of Mumbai, the National Liver Foundation and AmeriCares India – are long-term partners of ™ whose work has produced measurable outcomes to improve awareness, care and support for hepatitis B and C in China and India. The impact of ™ programs in China, in particular, was recognized by CMO Asia with an Asia’s Best CSR Practices Award in the category of Concern for Health during a ceremony on July 20, 2012.

“The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation has been working with partners in Asia for the past 10 years, helping mobilize communities to improve the prevention, care and support of hepatitis B and C,” said John Damonti, president, Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation. “Over the past decade, our focus has evolved from building infrastructure and educating lay health care workers to empowering patients to advocate for improved education, support and services. This evolution is an important signal that, together with our partners in the non-profit and government sectors, we are making important progress in helping to address the needs of people living with hepatitis B and C in communities that are disproportionately impacted by these diseases.”

Organizations and projects receiving support include:

Chronic hepatitis B is a serious global health issue. The virus is transmitted by person-to-person contact with infected blood or bodily fluids. Worldwide, more than 2 billion people have been in contact with the hepatitis B virus and about 350 million people are chronically infected, resulting in about one million deaths annually from liver cancer, cirrhosis or liver failure.

Hepatitis C virus infects the liver and is transmitted through direct contact with blood. An estimated 170 million people worldwide are chronically infected. One percent to five percent of people with chronic infection will develop liver cancer. Although there is no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C, it is curable.

The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation is an independent charitable organization whose mission is to reduce health disparities and improve health outcomes around the world for patients disproportionately affected by serious disease. The Foundation accomplishes this by strengthening community-based health care worker capacity, integrating medical care and community-based supportive services, and mobilizing communities in the fight against disease.

Since 2002, ™ has invested and initiated 38 program grants across Asia totaling more than US $9.7 million, specifically 16 grants in mainland China, three in Taiwan, 15 in India and four in Japan.

The Foundation’s support initially focused on preventing mother-to-child transmission of hepatitis B and promoting hepatitis B immunization in China. In 2006, the Foundation expanded those efforts to provide broader support for hepatitis B and C awareness, prevention and education, including the adoption of hepatitis B and C interventions and education in public health programs.

Today, the Foundation’s priority hepatitis B and C programs encompass capacity building for health care professionals and lay health workers, disease education and awareness, and sharing of best practices in the prevention and management of hepatitis B and C to inform public health policy.

Beyond hepatitis, the Foundation also focuses on HIV/AIDS in Africa through its  program; diabetes in the U.S., China and India through its  program; cancer in Central and Eastern Europe through its  program; and mental health in the U.S. through its program. For more information, visit the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation online at: .

Bristol-Myers Squibb is a global biopharmaceutical company whose mission is to discover, develop and deliver innovative medicines that help patients prevail over serious diseases. For more information, please visit or follow us on Twitter at .