AIDS Issues Update Blog

Dispatches from the fight against homelessness and AIDS


Posted by Tim Murphy , October 23, 2013


Cuomo signs this bill at a time when hep C treatment is better than ever, making screening all the more important.

Housing Works is delighted to hear that, today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed a new law that will better protect baby boomer New Yorkers from Hepatitis C by requiring hospitals and health service providers to offer testing for the virus to all patients born between 1945 and 1965.

Housing Works lobbied strongly for this law along with groups such as VOCAL-NY, Harlem United and Harm Reduction Coalition. Says Carmelita Cruz, Esq., HW director for New York State Advocacy and Organizing: “Because a lot of our clients are co-infected with HIV and Hep C, or at risk for contracting Hep C, we think that this is important and a great step in the right direction. Like the HIV testing bill we supported a few years ago, this bill will provide for increased awareness about Hep C and will allow us to treat folks who test positive earlier. That will provide both better health outcomes for them and reduce the strain on Medicaid when people are living healthier lives.”

Said Governor Cuomo: “Hepatitis C is a debilitating and potentially fatal disease that disproportionately affects the baby boomer generation in New York and nationwide. This new law will help fight Hepatitis C and keep New Yorkers safe by providing testing to those most likely to have this virus whenever they visit a medical facility. I thank Senator Hannon and Assembly Member Zebrowski for their work on this important legislation.”

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 75 % of Hepatitis C infection and about 73 % of Hepatitis C-associated mortality occurs in individuals born between 1945 and 1965 – baby boomers. New York State Department of Health statistics show that as many as 150,000 New Yorkers are unaware of their Hepatitis C status. The new law (A.1286-A/S.2750-A) will ensure that all individuals born between 1945 and 1965 are offered a hepatitis C screening test or diagnostic test whenever they are a patient at a hospital, clinic or a physician’s office.

Now more than ever, people should know their hep C status because new drugs have revolutionized hep C treatment and cure rates in recent years, even in folks who also have HIV and thus previously had a harder time curing their hep C. Hep C treatment promises to only get better in the few years ahead. Check out this handy user’s guide to all the latest/forthcoming treatments and resources from the Hepatitis C Mentor & Support Group.

Senator Kemp Hannon said, “I applaud the Governor for acknowledging this public health crisis and signing this bill into law. Nationwide, approximately three million adults are infected with the hepatitis C virus, most are baby boomers and three out of four are unaware they are infected. By requiring health care providers to offer hepatitis C testing, as recommended by the CDC, we have an opportunity to protect individuals from the leading cause of liver disease, and to treat and cure those who have been infected before they become seriously ill.”

Assembly member Kenneth Zebrowski said, “Hepatitis C is known as the “silent killer” because it can attack your liver for over a decade before you exhibit any symptoms. Recent estimates suggest that 1 out of 30 baby boomers could be infected with as many as 75% unaware. My father passed away from Hepatitis C in 2007, and my family experienced first hand the lack of information and knowledge surrounding this epidemic. This one time test will bring the disease out of the darkness and get thousands of New Yorkers lifesaving treatment before it is too late.”

The new law will take effect on January 1, 2014.

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