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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
JAPAN: Government Eyes Funds for HCV Therapy

September 11, 2007
Daily Yomiuri (Tokyo) (09.06.07) - Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Japanese government and ruling coalition recently announced they are considering allocating funds for the next fiscal year to subsidize hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment. The estimated number of HCV-infected Japanese is 1.5 million. In addition, the government is weighing the inclusion of funds to help treat hepatitis B and liver cancer, which may develop from hepatitis. The ruling parties' team is drafting a proposal that will include the treatment budget, the scope of assistance, and protocols for offering it. The government's assistance with HCV treatment may only be temporary, as there are no indications new HCV infections are increasing, said Jiro Kawasaki, chairperson of the team and former minister of health, labor, and welfare. The annual cost of HCV therapy is about 3 million yen (US $26,400) per patient, and the patient is personally responsible for about 800,000 yen (US $7,027). Many patients give up treatment due to the financial burden.