NIH News Release
Office of the Director

Office of Medical Applications of Research

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

OMAR Contact: Kelli Marciel (301) 496-4819
NIDDK Contact: Leslie Curtis (301) 496-3583


NIH Convenes Consensus Conference on Hepatitis C

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Consensus Development Program will hold a Consensus Development Conference on Management of Hepatitis C, June 10 - 12 in the main auditorium of the William H. Natcher Conference Center on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland. A news conference at 1:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, June 12, 2002 will conclude the 2-day meeting.

The hepatitis C virus (HCV) is the leading cause of liver disease in the United States and certainly the most common cause of cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma; it is also the most common reason for liver transplantation. Almost 4 million people in this country are believed to be infected with this virus. The disease was first identified in 1974 and referred to as non A, non B hepatitis. The virus itself was discovered in 1989, which led to a rapid increase in our understanding of the disease and how to prevent and treat it. A consensus development conference was held at the National Institutes of Health in March 1997 that led to an important NIH Consensus Statement that was broadly accepted as the standard of care for several years.

In the five years since that time, there has been a dramatic increase in knowledge of the condition, indicating the need to re-examine approaches to management and treatment. Accordingly, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the NIH Office of Medical Applications of Research have convened this second consensus development conference on hepatitis C, to review the most recent developments regarding management, treatment options, and the widening spectrum of potential candidates for treatment. The conference will revisit the following key questions:

During the first day-and-a-half of the conference, experts will present the latest hepatitis C research findings to an independent, non-Federal panel. After weighing all of the scientific evidence, the panel will draft a statement addressing the questions listed above. The panel will present its draft statement to the public for comment at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, June 12. Following this public comment session, the panel will release its revised statement at a news conference at 1:00 p.m. and take questions from the media.

An evidence report on this topic, prepared by the Johns Hopkins University Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC) under contract to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), will be considered by the panel. EPC evidence reports are comprehensive, systematic reviews and analyses of published scientific evidence. A summary of the Evidence Report on Management of Chronic Hepatitis C will be available on June 12, 2002, the final day of the conference, at The full report will be available on-line shortly thereafter.

The consensus statement is the report of an independent panel and is not a policy statement of the NIH or the federal government. The NIH Consensus Development Program was established in 1977 to resolve in an unbiased manner controversial topics in medicine. To date, NIH has conducted 115 consensus development conferences addressing a wide range of medical issues of importance to health care providers, patients, and the general public.

The primary sponsors of this meeting are the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the NIH Office of Medical Applications of Research.

Additional information about this conference, including the meeting agenda, local area hotels, and directions to NIH, is available at the NIH Consensus Development Program Web site at If you are attending the conference or press conference, please be aware of potential delays due to increased security at the NIH campus and plan accordingly. Parking is extremely limited, and vehicles as well as personal belongings are subject to search upon entrance to campus and/or facilities. More information about security procedures is available at

Note to TV Editors: The news conference at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, June 12, 2002 will be broadcast live via satellite on the following coordinates:

C-Band Galaxy 3 R Transponder 5
Downlink Frequency: 95 degrees West
Polarity: 3800 Horizontal
Audio: 6.2 / 6.8

Test Time: 12:30 - 1:00 p.m.
Broadcast: 1:00 - 2:00 p.m.

Note to Radio Editors: An audio report of the conference results will be available after 4 p.m. June 12, 2002 from the NIH Radio News Service by calling 1-800-MED-DIAL (1-800-633-3425).

NIH Videocasting will broadcast the conference live on the Internet. Visit the Consensus Development Program homepage — - or go directly to the NIH Videocast Web site - - any day during the conference and look for the link to the conference under "Today's Events."

American Sign Language interpretation will be provided during the conference. If you require any assistance to participate in this event, please contact AIR/Prospect Center at (301) 592-3320, or via e-mail (, at least 48 hours before the conference.