FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release # 005-16
Thursday, February 5, 2016

MEDIA CONTACT: (347) 396-4177
Christopher Miller/Julien Martinez: PressOffice@health.nyc.gov

Health Department Releases Report on Hepatitis B and C Surveillance and Programs in New York City

The number of newly reported acute hepatitis B infections declined by 28% from 2010 to 2014

New chronic hepatitis C reports increased by 13% from 2013 to 2014

The Health Department completed the first year of the Project INSPIRE hepatitis C care coordination program and has enrolled 1,370 hepatitis C patients to date

February 5, 2016 – The Health Department today released a new report detailing the city’s hepatitis B and C surveillance, research, and programmatic activities in 2014. The “Hepatitis B and C: Annual Report of Activities, 2014,” which can be found here, highlights the following trends:

  • The number of new acute hepatitis B (Hep B) infections decreased to 57 in 2014 from 69 in 2013. There have been no cases of acute Hep B among children and teenagers for several years, likely because of successful infant and childhood vaccination strategies.
  • The number of new chronic Hep B infections remains stable at 7,459 cases. Two-thirds of people newly reported with chronic Hep B were 20 to 49 years of age.
  • The number of New Yorkers newly reported with chronic hepatitis C (Hep C) infection increased from 6,822 to 7,691 from 2013 to 2014. Of those newly reported with chronic Hep C in 2014, 53 percent were born between 1945 and 1965.
  • The number of Hep C-related deaths in NYC increased 46 percent from 1999 to 2013. The Health Department estimates that the number of Hep B-related deaths remained stable.

“This new report outlines the agency’s surveillance efforts and the incredible community and provider work that the Viral Hepatitis Program has done in 2014,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “We are making great strides in preventing new Hep B infections in New York City, but thousands of people are newly diagnosed with Hep C each year. The Health Department will continue to dedicate needed resources to tackle this disease effectively.”

“People with Hep C do not have symptoms until decades after they were first infected, so it’s easy for the disease to be ‘out of sight, out of mind’,” said Dr. Jay Varma, Deputy Commissioner for Disease Control. “Hep C often causes liver cancer, the sixth most common cause of cancer deaths in the US, and one of the few cancers for which death rates are increasing. But this can be prevented; there are highly effective treatments for Hep C. Now is the time for all New Yorkers that may be at risk – especially baby boomers – to ask for the Hep C test and if they test positive, to be linked to care and treatment. With new and improved treatments now available for Hep C, a cure is possible. The financial support provided by the City Council is an essential component to the city’s overall strategy to Hep B and C infections in New York City.”

“This report provides incredibly helpful data that will help our City greatly in its effort to combat hepatitis B and C,” said Council Member Corey Johnson, Chair of the Health Committee. “These diseases have long affected the most vulnerable New Yorkers, particularly low-income and immigrant communities. By compiling data on new cases of hepatitis B and C, the top causes of infection, relevant demographic information and more, this report will give us the tools we need to beat back these diseases. I would like to thank Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for their excellent work, as well as my colleagues Council Members Margaret Chin and Peter Koo for working with me to pass the legislation that mandates these crucial reports.”

“Project INSPIRE has increased access to effective patient-centered HCV care for over a thousand patients in the Bronx," said Dr. Alain Litwin, Professor of Medicine at Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

“Project Inspire is a brilliant concept that has synergized with our existing programs to allow us to treat and cure many more people than we could have otherwise,” said Dr. Douglas T. Dieterich, Director, Institute for Liver Medicine at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. 

Starting in 2014, New York City Council funded Hep B and C patient navigation services at community health centers and harm reduction programs citywide. These programs served 2,471 patients in FY2015, providing outreach, prevention, health coaching, linkage to care and care coordination services. In FY16, nearly $975,000 has been allocated towards community health centers to improve treatment for Hep B and C, enhance prevention services, and provide training to health professionals. City Council also funded the Empire Liver Foundation to provide clinical capacity building to improve providers’ ability to treat and care for Hep C at medical facilities throughout the city.

The report highlights differences in Hep B and C new reports across the city. For 2013-2014, the neighborhood with the highest rate of newly reported chronic Hep B was Sunset Park (605.8 per 100,000 people). The majority of Hep B-positive women who gave birth in 2014 resided in Brooklyn (44 percent), followed by Queens (30 percent). For 2013-2014, the neighborhood with the highest rate of newly reported chronic Hep C was East Harlem (190.1 per 100,000 people). Staten Island had the highest rate (34.7 per 100,000 people) of newly reported Hep C in people 0 to 29 years of age.

Effective January 1, 2014, New York State law mandates that health care providers offer a Hep C screening test to all patients born in 1945 to 1965, as well as follow-up care or referral for those identified as positive.

Based on research conducted by the Health Department’s Viral Hepatitis Program from June to November 2014, the report shows that the most common factors cited by providers and patients as barriers to Hep C treatment were active alcohol or drug use, other medical conditions, and mental health issues. This is one issue that is being addressed by the Viral Hepatitis Program’s latest initiative – Project INSPIRE. The three-year demonstration project seeks to improve health care and lower costs for Hep C patients through care coordination.

To date, Project INSPIRE has enrolled 1,370 patients in a program designed to support them through Hep C treatment while managing their co-morbidities, including their mental health and substance abuse issues. Enrollees are expected to achieve cure rates of 90% for non-cirrhotic patients and at least 50% for cirrhotic patients. Through a cost analysis and development of a new payment model, the project aims to demonstrate that care coordination supports patients through cure, reduces hospitalizations and emergency room costs, and reduces long-term complications of Hep C infection. Project INSPIRE works with two major medical centers in Upper Manhattan and the Bronx, where the burden of Hep C is the highest in the city.

The Health Department’s Viral Hepatitis Program offers free resources to support health care providers in Hep B and C screening and care. These resources include regular in-person trainings for health care and social service providers on Hep B and C-related topics, as well as print and online educational resources for patients and providers. In addition, the Program is the lead organizer for Hep Free NYC (HepFree.NYC), a citywide network of community-based organizations, health care organizations, providers and advocates organized to address Hep B and C in the city and of the HCV Clinical Provider Network, a formal network of NYC hospitals organized around Hep C (HepCX.NYC). For more information, visit nyc.gov/health/hepatitis or contact hep@health.nyc.gov.