More than 200,000 New Yorkers are living with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, which can lead to severe liver disease and now accounts for more deaths each year than HIV/AIDS nationwide. Most people with chronic HCV can be easily cured with treatment that has become newly available, although many do not know their status and too few of those who do are connected to care. At VOCAL-NY, we believe that ending the epidemic requires that people living with or affected by HCV have the opportunity to have their voices heard and their concerns considered.
VOCAL-NY has advocated for New York State and NYC to take a comprehensive approach to hepatitis C virus (HCV) control and elimination for more than a decade. Through our community organizing efforts we have mobilized hundreds of people directly affected by HCV to demand public resources and policies to expand prevention, testing and linkage to care, and curative treatment. We are a founding member of the NYS Hepatitis C Coalition, which unites dozens of organizations in a common effort to end the epidemic, and which among other activities serves as a platform for the VOCAL-NY-organized annual NYS Hepatitis C Legislative Awareness Day and annual state legislative and budget advocacy.
Beginning in 2015 with financial support from the NYS Department of Health and the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, we undertook an ambitious program to replicate New York’s Plan to End AIDS by 2020 for HCV, which to date has involved dedicated community organizing and policy work, a series of town hall meetings around the state, and mobilization of allies in medicine, public health, and other areas.
Although HCV can be prevented and cured, much work is needed to ensure access to treatment for all. Join the fight by contacting Carlos Rosario at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our accomplishments include:
- Passed The Hep C Screening Law to expand standing order HCV testing, the first of its kind in the country.
- Doubled New York City Council funding for it Viral Hepatitis Initiative, which creates peer navigator programming, care coordination services, and other support to end the Hepatitis B and C epidemics.
- Got Medicaid to drop harmful restrictions for coverage for HCV treatment, granting access to treatment to thousands of New Yorkers with Hepatitis C.
Main image: Preparing for a rally in Albany to get Medicaid to end restrictions to lifesaving HCV treatment.