Albany, NY – Governor Cuomo publicly announced a commitment to ending the hepatitis C (HCV) epidemic in New York. The announcement builds off his 2015 commitment to end AIDS as an epidemic in New York State. In the announcement, Cuomo committed to allocating resources this year which would be the first increase in hepatitis C funding in a decade.
This announcement comes one year after New York State held the first Hepatitis C Elimination Summit in the nation. The summit was a culmination of a year’s worth of work by 94 New York-based health experts, providers, government representatives and advocates that represent roughly 50 different hospitals, universities, health departments, and community-based organizations. A Consensus Statement signed by 147 organizations – including the New York State Association of County Health Officials, and 10 County Health Departments around the state – was delivered to the Governor this year calling on “Governor Andrew Cuomo, the NYS Legislature, and industry partners to make a joint commitment to hepatitis C elimination, and for the appointment of a formal NYS Hepatitis C Elimination Task Force.”
In response, VOCAL-NY released the following statement: “The commitment to end hepatitis C in New York State is a victory for over 200,000 New Yorkers living with hepatitis C and countless New Yorkers who are at risk of infection,” said Clifton Garmon, Senior Policy Analyst from VOCAL-NY. “The Governor could begin his ambitious plan by investing $10.8 million into key public health interventions, and by finally establishing safe consumption spaces (SCS) in New York State, which are proven to reduce the rates of HCV. With every delay resulting in another avoidable death, the Governor’s commitment to HCV elimination comes at a critical time in New York.”
Dr. Denis Nash, the Executive Director of CUNY’s Institute for Implementation Science in Population Health said, “Our Governor has again taken a bold step to address one of our most pressing population health issues that is also very solvable implementation science challenge. We can and will eliminate the hepatitis C virus epidemic in New York!’
Background: Hepatitis C kills more people nationwide than any other infectious disease, including the combined deaths of tuberculosis, HIV, and 58 other infectious diseases. In 2015 nearly 1,000 New Yorkers died of hepatitis C related causes. This is a low estimate considering an additional 1,634 New Yorkers died of liver cancer, which is often directly linked to HCV according to the CDC.