Health Department Releases Report On Hepatitis Surveillance And Programs In New York City, Launches Ad Campaign To Promote New Health Care Services For People Living With Viral Hepatitis

More than 15,000 people were newly reported with hepatitis B or C in 2015

NYC Council invests $1.5 million in Hepatitis Community Health Programs in FY2017

New ad campaign encourages New Yorkers to get tested and connect to care

October 4, 2016 – The Health Department today released a new report detailing the City’s hepatitis B and C surveillance, research, and programs in 2015. The latest data show a continued decrease (4.7 percent) in the rate of chronic hepatitis C cases compared to the previous year, and a slight uptick (3.5 percent) in chronic hepatitis B cases in 2015. To raise awareness about hepatitis C care and treatment programs throughout the city, the Health Department is launching a new media campaign this week to encourage New Yorkers to get tested for hepatitis C and, if positive, to get into care to treat and cure the infection. The targeted print campaign will focus on areas of Brooklyn with the highest numbers of hepatitis C cases in NYC, including Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, Williamsburg, East New York, and Flatbush. The eight-week awareness campaign will run in English and Spanish and be featured on bus shelters, laundromats, barbershops, and salons. The print ads will be accompanied with social media ads targeting New Yorkers over the age of 50 in the 20 citywide ZIP codes with the highest number of newly reported hepatitis C cases in 2015.

Hepatitis C Ad Campaign

“While it is encouraging to see a decline in hepatitis C cases, we have more work to do to ensure all New Yorkers have access to care and treatment,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “I thank Mayor de Blasio and the City Council for their continued commitment to making it easier for New Yorkers to get tested and treated for hepatitis B and C.”

The Hepatitis B and C: Annual Report of Activities, 2015 (PDF) highlights the following trends:

  • From 2005 to 2015, the rate of newly reported hepatitis C cases declined in NYC overall. There were 7,328 newly diagnosed cases in 2015.
  • From 2005 to 2015, the rate of newly reported hepatitis B cases has also declined. However, a slight increase has been seen since 2013. There were 7,719 newly diagnosed cases in 2015.
  • From 1999 to 2014, hepatitis C-related deaths increased by 38 percent.
  • More than half of deaths related to both hepatitis B and C occurred in people younger than 65 years of age.
  • Areas disproportionately affected by liver cancer, hepatitis B and hepatitis C include the Bronx, Upper Manhattan, southern Brooklyn and Northern Queens.

In FY16, City Council created a new Viral Hepatitis Initiative, allocating $975,000 to community health organizations to improve health outcomes of New Yorkers infected with hepatitis B or C. This initiative supported the development of the Health Department’s Check Hep B and Check Hep C Patient Navigation Programs, the Hep C Peer Navigation Program at syringe exchange programs, and an education and mentorship program for primary care physicians treating hepatitis C. In 2015, 27 community health organizations funded by this initiative served more than 3,000 New Yorkers by providing hepatitis B and C prevention, screening, linkage to care and clinical care coordination services. In FY17, City Council increased support for this initiative to $1.5 million, funding seven new community health organizations.

Hepatitis C Ad Campaign

“From tracking these diseases to implementing innovative strategies to defeat them, the Health Department is doing outstanding work when it comes to hepatitis B and C,” said Council Member Corey Johnson, Chair of the Committee on Health. “This report demonstrates that our efforts are having some positive effects, particularly with hepatitis C, but that there’s more work to be done. Under the leadership of Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett, we’ll continue to make progress in defeating hepatitis B and C in our City.”

“Although the rate of Hepatitis C and Hepatitis B cases in New York City has declined, Hepatitis continues to pose a threat to far too many New Yorkers. I applaud the de Blasio administration and the City Council for recognizing the stubborn and persistent prevalence of Hepatitis in our city and for investing additional funds in community health programs to raise awareness about testing and treatment programs. City, State and federal governments can help fight the spread of Hepatitis and HIV by advancing public policies, education initiatives, and outreach programs to reduce unsafe sex and sharing of needles by intravenous drug users,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried of Manhattan, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Health.

“Despite the fact that both Hepatitis A and B are preventable through vaccination, last year 10 percent of new Hepatitis A cases and 20 percent of new Hepatitis B cases occurred in gay or bisexual men. More disturbing, of those people infected with HIV, up to a quarter also have Hepatitis C,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman. “To bring these numbers down we need to make critical investments in services to improve awareness and access to care. Thanks to the de Blasio Administration, Commissioner Bassett and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene we’re doing just that, and I want to thank them for this new report, which provides a useful marker in our on-going efforts to bring down the number of new Hepatitis cases and provide our community with the care it needs.”

“This new report confirms the need for continued surveillance, testing and research into hepatitis B and C, which negatively affects the health of thousands of New Yorkers—especially those in Asian American and low-income communities that are underserved by healthcare providers,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. “That is why I proudly joined my Council colleagues this year to invest $1.5 million in badly needed hepatitis B and C health programs to help New Yorkers get tested and connect to care providers in their communities. I thank Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Bassett for embarking on this targeted print campaign to spread awareness about low-cost testing and treatment to prevent the permanent and often debilitating damage caused by hepatitis B and C.”

“This report outlines critical information that will enable health officials to efficiently combat the prevalence of Hepatitis B and C in our communities through outreach, treatment and support,” said Council Member Peter Koo. “I am proud to have supported the Hepatitis B and C imitative in the City Council so we can raise awareness and prevent the spread of this pervasive disease and improve the health and well-being of all New Yorkers.

“The poor health statistics in the South Bronx drive us to truly want to make a difference in each and every patient, family, and neighborhood with which we connect. Check Hep B and C Patient Navigation Program funding from the New York City Council will help us move forward and succeed in our continuing efforts to Promote and Achieve Health Care Excellence for the communities we serve,” said Dr. Doug Reich, Chairman, Family Medicine, Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center.

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 City Council programs described above, as well as Project INSPIRE—a three-year demonstration project that seeks to improve health care and lower costs for hepatitis C patients through care coordination. Through August 31, 2016, Project INSPIRE has enrolled 2,204 patients in a program designed to support them through hepatitis C treatment while managing their mental health and substance abuse issues. 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).

A list of organizations funded through the NYC Hepatitis C Peer Navigation Program, the Check Hep B and C Patient Navigation Programs, and the Clinical Education Initiative can be found on the agency’s website. For more information about any of these programs, visit nyc.gov/health/hepatitis or contact hep@health.nyc.gov.

New Yorkers can call 311 or visit nyc.gov/health/hepc to find low-cost testing and treatment.

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