National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable Applauds Passage of Hepatitis C Screening Bill in New York
Contact: Martha Saly
This month, the New York State legislature passed landmark legislation requiring primary care doctors and hospitals to offer hepatitis C screening to all patients born between 1945 and 1965, the “Baby Boomer” generation. The bill mandates that those with positive screening results would be offered or linked to hepatitis C care. The bipartisan bill, introduced in the New York State Assembly by Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski and in the New York State Senate by Health Committee Chairman Senator Kemp Hannon, passed by overwhelming margins: 138-1 in the Assembly and 63-0 in the Senate. The legislation, which would go into effect on January 1, 2014, currently awaits signature by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
“We’re excited to see state legislative action to bring screening policy in line with CDC guidelines,” said Martha Saly, Executive Director of the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable (NVHR). “NVHR is proud to have leant our support to this effort, achieved by a broad advocacy coalition led by several NVHR member organizations.”
Often called the “silent epidemic”, the number of deaths from hepatitis C will grow in the coming years, especially among people who have been unknowingly infected for thirty to forty years. According to the CDC, if the people who are currently infected with HCV do not receive care, 1.76 million will develop cirrhosis, approximately 400,000 will develop liver cancer, and approximately 1 million will die of related complications between the mid 2020s and mid 2030s. Hepatitis C treatments are improving rapidly, promising more effective drugs and shorter treatment regimens. In light of these positive improvements in treatment, NVHR commends The New York state legislature for removing barriers around testing to ensure that those New Yorkers who have been exposed to the hepatitis C virus are given a chance to know be tested, and if needed, be linked to care treatment.
The National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable (NVHR) is a coalition of more than 200 public, private and voluntary organizations dedicated to reducing the incidence of infection, morbidity and mortality from viral hepatitis in the United States. www.nvhr.org