For Immediate Release – June 24, 2013
Contact: Matt Curtis, 646.234.9062
New York – VOCAL-NY applauds the USPSTF decision to offer a “B” rating for testing baby boomers for the hepatitis C virus (HCV), which will encourage Medicare and private health insurance providers to pay for testing without copayments by patients.
“We have the tools to end the hepatitis C epidemic, we just need the political will to apply them,” said Diane Nunez, a VOCAL-NY leader living with hepatitis C from the Bronx, NY. “The first step is for people to know their status, so they can access lifesaving care and treatment. There’s no doubt it’s cost-effective for baby boomers to get tested for the hepatitis C virus – it’s either pay now or pay much more later when someone develops liver disease.”
The USPSTF announcement comes a few days after New York became the first state in the nation to pass a law requiring hospitals and healthcare clinics to offer a HCV test to baby boomers. The new recommendation is expected to greatly enhance the bill’s impact if Governor Andrew Cuomo signs it into law.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that Baby Boomers account for over 75% of HCV infections and recommended that all people born between 1945 and 1965 get a one-time test last year. The USPSTF initially ignored the CDC recommendation and released a weaker rating for HCV testing that would have limited health insurance reimbursement for the test. A person can live with HCV for decades without any noticeable symptoms and most people do not they are infected, underscoring the importance of expanding access to testing.
VOCAL-NY is a grassroots membership organization advocating for healthy and just communities by building power among low-income people affected by HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C, mass incarceration, and the war on drugs. More information at www.vocal-ny.org.