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Thelma King Thiel, Founder of Hepatitis Foundation International, Retires 

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 13, 2014 – The Board of the Hepatitis Foundation International (HFI) announced the retirement of Thelma King Thiel as Chairperson and Director and the appointment of Karen Wirth as Chair of the Board effective May 6, 2013. The Foundation's new slate of officers also includes Dane Christiansen as Vice Chair, Ed Marino, as Treasurer and Ivonne Perlaza Fuller, HFI's CEO as Secretary.

The Board and staff thanked Ms. Thiel for establishing HFI in memory of her son Dean, whom she lost to liver disease at a young age, and for her 20 years of noteworthy service. Ms. Thiel's vision and dedication to educating the public about not only hepatitis, but the basics of liver wellness, set HFI apart from other organizations. Dane Christiansen said, "Thelma's contributions to HFI and the field of liver wellness are significant and greatly appreciated. "We wish her the very best for the future as she moves on to work with other organizations."

The Board welcomed Ms. Wirth's appointment and her continued commitment to HFI. Ms. Wirth has served on HFI's Board for the past 18 years as a Director and a leading patient advocate. Karen's personal crusade against liver disease began in 1994 when she and her husband adopted a sibling group of three toddlers from Kazakhstan. They learned that one was a chronic Hepatitis B (HBV) carrier with cirrhosis. Karen states, "There is no cure for HBV, only a preventative vaccine. I spent years after this diagnosis advocating and testifying before Congressional committees and state legislatures regarding the need for mandated HBV vaccines because infected children not only posed a risk to others but also required specialized medical care." Karen was handpicked as a board member in part for her dedication to HFI's mission. Further reflecting on her years of service to HFI, Karen stated, "Our family struggled with the stigma attached to hepatitis, and HFI's success in promoting advocacy, education, testing and research is changing the way those in the medical community and public think about this disease. The recent CDC recommendation that Baby Boomers be screened for Hepatitis C (HCV) is further evidence that not only children and young adults, but people of all ages, must be tested and informed of their status since there is now a cure and early diagnosis and treatment can prevent liver disease and costly transplants."

HFI will celebrate its 20th year anniversary, November 2014 and has led the way in advocacy, research and education in the U.S. As one of the first nonprofit organizations to address hepatitis, HFI continues to be as relevant today, empowering individuals to avoid liver damaging activities worldwide by understanding the important role the liver plays in their health and wellbeing.

"HFI has a dedicated staff, a strong and involved Board of Directors and an entire community of constituents supporting our work," said Ed Marino. Ms. Fuller stated, "During HFI's next 20 years, I know the Foundation will have the tools, resources and support needed to ensure that we continue to grow, make innovative strides to eradicate HCV, and address liver disease globally."

About HFI

The Hepatitis Foundation International (HFI) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization established in 1994 working to eradicate chronic hepatitis for 500 million people globally. HFI is dedicated to increasing and promoting health and wellness; reducing the incidence of preventable liver-related chronic diseases, and lifestyles that negatively impacts the liver. Some of these diseases include; obesity, diabetes, hepatitis, substance abuse, HIV/AIDS, cardiovascular disease and fatty/liver cancer. The HFI reaches well over 5 million patients and health care professionals annually through our public and private partnerships ( www.HepatitisFoundation.org).