Gilead Announces $8 Million in Grant Funding for Viral Hepatitis Relink Program in the U.S.
Gilead Sciences, Inc. (Nasdaq: GILD) today announced it is providing a total of $8 million in funding through a new grant program in the United States called Gilead Relink, which is focused on bringing diagnosed but untreated people living with hepatitis C virus (HCV) or hepatitis B virus (HBV) back into care. The CDA Foundation (CDAF), based in Lafayette, Colorado, will act as the lead organization for the program and be responsible for implementing and overseeing Gilead Relink, including distributing funds to grantees identified by CDAF that meet certain criteria, integral strategic planning and technical assistance.
Despite the availability of existing treatments and HBV vaccination options, in the United States an estimated 2.4 million people are living with HCV, and 850,000 are estimated to be living with HBV according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Both HCV and HBV are responsible for increasing rates of cirrhosis, liver cancer, liver failure and premature deaths. Recognizing the growing risk of viral hepatitis, the World Health Organization (WHO) has set a global target to eliminate it as a public health threat by 2030. Despite the availability of oral drugs with high cure rates for HCV and effective therapies for HBV, this goal has been impeded because many people diagnosed with viral hepatitis are unaware of their infection, do not seek follow-up care, or delay treatment.
The Gilead Relink grant program aims to identify and bridge the gaps that remain in linking people living with HCV and HBV back to necessary care and treatment by prioritizing three programmatic areas – utilizing evidence-based solutions, leveraging successful intervention and data collection models, and emphasizing knowledge sharing and convening.
“Gilead has been committed to improving the lives of people living with liver disease for more than two decades, and we are thrilled to expand our support to healthcare organizations through the new Gilead Relink grant program,” said Macky Natha, Vice President, Medical Affairs, Gilead Sciences. “As we work toward eliminating viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030, we must address barriers to treatment by relinking the people who have been lost in the process, and that’s what the CDA Foundation and other impactful organizations will help accomplish through this program.”
CDAF is a non-profit organization specializing in the study of complex and poorly-understood diseases with the aim of providing countries and territories with the data and information needed to create and implement successful elimination strategies. It seeks to help eliminate HBV and HCV globally by 2030 by providing countries across the world with verified epidemiological data, disease burden and economic impact modeling, smart intervention strategies, access to affordable diagnostics and treatments, innovative financing and knowledge-sharing partnerships to eliminate these deadly diseases.
“The relink grant funded by Gilead is an important example of how public and private partnerships can shape viral hepatitis elimination programs that will help the United States achieve the WHO elimination targets by 2030,” said Homie Razavi, Founder and Managing Director, CDA Foundation. “In order to improve viral hepatitis patient outcomes in the United States, we must ensure that individuals not only have access to but are also guided toward affordable and effective prevention, care and treatment services.”
Gilead Relink builds on the company’s longstanding commitment to addressing the unmet needs of people living with viral hepatitis globally. In 2016, Gilead reaffirmed its dedication to helping achieve the WHO goal by 2030 through support of national hepatitis elimination strategies, disease awareness campaigns, medical and community education events, and more than 100 investigator-initiated clinical trials globally to screen, diagnose and treat viral hepatitis. In 2019, Gilead launched HepConnect, a five-year, multi-million dollar initiative to help address the increase in HCV infections in greater Appalachia, focused on expanding HCV screening, linking people to care, improving healthcare professional education and supporting evidence-based harm reduction services through partnerships.