Newswise — The World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ) is pleased to announce it is launching a Hepatitis C (HCV) global media education initiative. The initiative‚Äôs steering committee will convene for the first time on April 24 at the 50th European Association for the Study of the liver (EASL) conference in Vienna, Austria.

The global disease burden of viral hepatitis is staggering. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 130-150 million people have chronic HCV worldwide, and that a majority of individuals with HCV are not aware they are infected. People with chronic HCV have a high risk of developing serious life threatening liver diseases. Despite the health risks of HCV and its high prevalence, media coverage of the HCV pandemic is low and the public is not well informed about the transmission, detection, health risks, treatment prospects, and state of government health policy for HCV. The program’s steering committee is comprised of both experienced health journalists and prominent HCV experts who will work together in designing the initiative. Health journalists Poul Birch Eriksen (Former Executive Producer and Special Correspondent, Danish Broadcasting Corporation), Cécile Klingler (Former News and Biology Editor at La Recherche), and Mohammed Yahia (Executive Editor for the Middle-East, Nature) will serve on the committee with Charles Gore (President of the World Hepatitis Alliance (WHA)), and leading HCV researcher Jean-Michel Pawlotsky (Director of the National Reference Center for Viral Hepatitis B, C and Delta and of the Department of Virology at the Henri Mondor University Hospital). The committee will be chaired by award-winning science journalist Phil Hilts (Former Director, Knight Science Journalism Program MIT).

The educational program will be designed to appeal to a wide range of journalists, from established health reporters working in large media organizations to independent journalists who cover general news beats. The program will provide educational activities such as online HCV courses, webinars, and workshops that will be held in different key regions around the globe, as well as convenient, comprehensive, and credible informational tools, including an HCV expert contact data base.

Different global regions face unique challenges regarding HCV and journalists must navigate HCV reporting obstacles that are region-specific. The WFSJ’s prime objective is to foster independent, high quality global science journalism by supporting sustainable improvements in local science communication. The initiative will help Journalists around the globe interpret, question, and link HCV-related information from different sources, and effectively report on the pandemic in a context that is relevant to the communities they serve.

A press point outlining the goals of the initiative will be held at the EASL conference on April 23 at 1100 in the Schubert 1 room. --About the WFSJ (www.wfsj.org | @WFSJ #wfsjHCV)The World Federation of Science Journalists is a not-for-profit NGO that represents science journalists and their associations around the globe. The Federation supports strong, critical coverage of scientific issues through initiatives that train, mentor, and educate science journalists internationally. The WFSJ is committed to the creation of national journalist associations and to networks that strengthen science journalism, and in turn, civil society. WFSJ organizes the World Conference of Science Journalists. ###

Media contactColleen Manitt +1 514 662 2106 [email protected] | @ColleenManitt

Biographies

Phil J. Hilts (Chair)Philip J. Hilts is a freelance science journalist, and the former Director of the Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT. Prior to his tenure at MIT, he was an award-winning health and science journalist with The New York Times and The Washington Post for 20 years. He has also authored 6 books, including Rx for Survival: Why We Must Rise to the Global Health Challenge, which discusses how we need to address the increasing global number of deadly viruses by engaging in effective public health initiatives.

Poul Birch EriksenPoul Birch Eriksen is a broadcast journalist. He worked with the Danish Broadcasting Corporation covering global health and science for over 30 years. He has reported on HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases with a focus on public health, and has contributed to National campaigns aimed at informing the public about AIDS for radio and TV. He has worked as a special correspondent and an executive producer on several currents affairs programs for Danish Radio. He also lectured on disaster response at the University of Copenhagen.

Cécile Klingler PhDCécile Klingler is a Freelance health and science journalist. Prior to this, she worked as a biology Editor and staff writer at the French science magazine La Recherche for 14 years. At La Recherche she covered a broad range of science and health topics, including infectious diseases. She later worked as the news editor at the magazine, and ran a column on environmental and bioethics.

Mohammed YahiaMohammed Yahia is the Executive Editor at Nature Publishing Group (NPG) for the Middle-Eastern region. He has also served as the Editor of Nature Middle-East, an online portal focusing on research in the Middle-East, since its launch. Mohammed has covered many stories on the HCV epidemic in Egypt, and has called for measures that will improve rigorous global health reporting of HCV, particularly in heavily affected regions. He is also contributing to the Nature Arabic Edition, an Arabic translation of Nature. Mohammed is a co-founder of the Arab Science Journalists Association (ASJA), and currently serves as its vice-president.

Charles GoreCharles Gore is the president of the World Hepatitis Alliance (WHA), a not-for-profit NGO run by HCV patient groups from all over the world. Charles has worked with Government Departments and the National Health Service in the UK to improve HCV public health policy. He is currently co-chairing the pathways, systems and levers workstream of the National Liver Disease Strategy. He contributed to the formation of the European Liver Patients Association and served as its first president in 2004. He was instrumental in getting a WHO resolution passed to develop a strategy to control and prevent viral hepatitis and in establishing World Hepatitis Day, only the fourth disease-specific official WHO day (with World Aids Day, World TB Day and World Malaria Day).

Jean-Michel Pawlotsky MD, PhDDr Pawlotsky is a Professor of Medicine at the University of Paris-Est. He is the Director of a number of clinical and academic research units, including the National Reference Center for Viral Hepatitis B, C and Delta. Dr Pawlotsky has published over 350 articles and book chapters on viral hepatitis. He is active in numerous professional societies, and served as the Secretary General of the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) for several years. He is a member of the Scientific College and President of Scientific Commission 4 (CSS4) and Concerted Action 33 (AC33) of the French National Agency for AIDS and Viral Hepatitis Research (ANRS).