About 200,000 New Yorkers are living with hepatitis C, but the state Department of Health (DOH)) estimates that 75% do not know their status. The hepatitis C virus is a leading cause of liver cancer and now kills more New Yorkers each year than HIV/AIDS, even though a majority of people with hepatitis C can be cured if they are diagnosed early enough and have access to care.
The good news is New York may become the first state in the nation to pass a hepatitis C testing law that would increase the number of people who know their status.
Join us on Tuesday, June 11th for a rally in Albany to call for passage of a bill that would help more New Yorkers learn their hepatitis C status and benefit from care and treatment. Meet us at the Million Dollar Staircase in the Capitol Building at 11am.
Legislation introduced by Assembly Member Kenneth Zembrowski and Senate Health Committee Chair Kemp Hannon is modeled after both federal guidelines and New York’s successful HIV testing law, and would require hospitals and health clinics to offer hepatitis C testing to people born between the years 1945 and 1965, the age group with the highest infection rate. It has already cleared the committee process in both the Assembly and Senate, and is now awaiting a floor vote in the final days before the end of session. For more information about the bill, view VOCAL-NY’s memo of support.
Leading elected officials are expected to join the rally on June 11th, including bills sponsors Assembly Member Zebrowski and Senator Hannon, Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried, Senate Aging Chair Eric Adams and Assembly Aging Committee Chair Joan Millman. The rally is co-sponsored by a growing list of organizations, including Citiwide Harm Reduction, Community Health Action of Staten Island, Harlem United, Harm Reduction Coalition, Latino Commission on AIDS, Lower East Side Harm Reduction, National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable, NY Harm Reduction Educators, Village Care.
Passage of the hepatitis C testing bill is key to scaling up New York’s response to the epidemic, and was a key goal during our Hepatitis C Legislative Awareness Day in March.