Health Department Highlights New Preliminary Data on Hepatitis B and C in Recognition of Hepatitis Awareness Month

Newly reported cases of chronic hepatitis C declined by 5.4% from 2014 to 2015

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


May 24, 2016 – In recognition of Hepatitis Awareness Month, the Health Department today highlighted new preliminary data on hepatitis B and hepatitis C. In New York City, an estimated 100,000 people live with hepatitis B and 146,500 people ages 20 and older live with hepatitis C. Many people living with hepatitis B or C are unaware of their infection and not receiving medical care. Chronic hepatitis C infection can be cured if it is diagnosed and appropriately treated.

Preliminary data from the Health Department shows that, in 2015:
  • 7,719 people were newly reported with chronic hepatitis B in New York City, a slight increase from 7,459 in 2014.
  • Two-thirds of those diagnosed (66.5%) were between 20 to 49 years of age.
  • The highest rate of chronic hepatitis B was in Sunset Park, Brooklyn at 744.8 per 100,000 people. Other neighborhoods with high rates of chronic hepatitis B were Borough Park in Brooklyn, Flushing, Queens, and Greenwich Village-SoHo and Union Square in Manhattan.
  • 7,276 people were newly reported with chronic hepatitis C in New York City, a slight decrease from 7,691 in 2014.
  • 49.7% of those diagnosed with chronic hepatitis C were born between 1945 and 1965 (“baby boomer” generation).
  • 12.0% of New Yorkers diagnosed with chronic hepatitis C were between 0 to 29 years of age, and of this group, 89.8% were 20 to 29 years of age.
  • Neighborhoods with the highest chronic hepatitis C rates were East Harlem, Chelsea-Clinton, East and Central Harlem in Manhattan, and Hunts Point-Mott Haven in the Bronx.
2014 data can be found in the Health Department’s “Hepatitis B and C: Annual Report of Activities, 2014.”

“It is now easier than ever to get tested and treated for viral hepatitis in New York City,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “We have made progress in identifying cases and connecting New Yorkers to treatment, but we must continue to work with communities across the city to dedicate more resources to addressing a disease that disproportionately affects communities of color and LGBT New Yorkers.”

“Viral hepatitis remains a silent epidemic in NYC. The number of New Yorkers dying from viral hepatitis is increasing, but many people don’t realize they are at risk and haven’t been tested. We encourage New Yorkers to learn about the viral hepatitis and, if you’re a baby boomer, to get tested for hepatitis C,” said Dr. Jay Varma, Deputy Commissioner for Disease Control.

“We are very concerned about new hepatitis C infections among young people,” said Dr. Fabienne Laraque, medical director of the Health Department’s Viral Hepatitis Program. “We want all New Yorkers, especially young adults who become addicted to prescription painkillers, to learn how they can protect themselves from hepatitis C.”

“The DOHMH data show a significant and encouraging reduction of new cases of hepatitis C in New York City.  But the slight increase in new cases of hepatitis B, and the fact that nearly a quarter of a million New Yorkers have hepatitis C or hepatitis B show that we must continue public policies, education and programs to reduce unsafe sex and sharing of needles by intravenous drug users if we want to reduce transmission,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Health.

This past April, the New York State (NYS) Department of Health Drug Utilization Review Board (DURB) voted to remove most prescribing restrictions on coverage of hepatitis C treatment medications for patients in Medicaid fee-for-service plans. In addition, the NYS Attorney General’s office reached an agreement with some of the state’s private insurers to remove their own restrictions on hepatitis C drug coverage. While these actions will increase access, the Health Department urges all health insurance companies to remove all restrictions on coverage of hepatitis C treatment.

Starting in 2014, the New York City Council funded hepatitis B and C patient navigation services at community health centers and harm reduction programs citywide. These programs served 2,471 patients in Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, providing outreach, prevention, health coaching, linkage to care and care coordination services. In FY16, nearly $975,000 was allocated toward community health centers to improve treatment for hepatitis B and C, enhance prevention services, and provide training to health professionals. This City Council funding allows the Empire Liver Foundation to provide clinical capacity building to improve providers’ ability to treat and care for hepatitis C at medical facilities throughout the city.

Research conducted by the Health Department’s Viral Hepatitis Program from June to November 2014 shows that the most common factors cited by providers and patients as barriers to hepatitis C treatment were active alcohol or drug use, other medical conditions, and mental health issues. These issues are 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 hepatitis C patients through care coordination.

To date, Project INSPIRE has enrolled 1,805 patients in a program designed to support them through hepatitis C treatment while managing their co-morbidities, including 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 hepatitis C infection. Project INSPIRE works with Mount Sinai and Montefiore Medical Centers in Upper Manhattan and the Bronx, where the burden of hepatitis C is the highest in the city.

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

In recognition of Hepatitis Awareness Month, the Health Department urges all New Yorkers to:

  • Learn your risk for hepatitis B and C. Visit nyc.gov/health/hepatitis or text the word “LIVER” to 877877.
  • Get tested if you are at risk. Ask your doctor for the test, or find a hepatitis B or C testing and treatment site near you using the Health Department’s site locator.
  • Protect yourself and your loved ones from hepatitis B. Ask your doctor for the hepatitis B vaccine.
  • If you are living with hepatitis B and/or C, learn more about how to stay healthy. Visit nyc.gov/health/hepatitis or download the NYC Liver Health app.


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