Task Force to Advise the State on Plan to Eliminate Hepatitis C
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the members selected to join the Task Force that will advise the state on its Hepatitis C Elimination Plan. The creation of the Task Force is the next step toward finalizing the Elimination Plan and builds on recommendations presented by community stakeholders at the New York State Hepatitis C Elimination Summit in 2017.
"The members selected for this task force are some of the finest in their fields, and their invaluable experience will provide us with the information we need to develop an attainable elimination plan," Governor Cuomo said. "This strategic plan will not only improve the quality of life for those living with Hepatitis C, but also ensure that New Yorkers have the support and resources they need to prevent this disease."
"Our comprehensive approach to eliminating Hepatitis C will help to save lives and bring peace-of-mind to millions of New Yorkers," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "Like so many other issues, New York is leading the nation, and developing a new approach to combating this deadly disease. The Task Force will bring together the best and the brightest to focus on creative solutions, helping to improve the health of New Yorkers and ensure Hepatitis C becomes a concern of the past."
The work of the Task Force will be supplemented by five workgroups: Prevention; Testing and Linkage to Care; Care and Treatment; Surveillance, Data and Metrics; and Social Determinants. Task Force and workgroup members include representatives from community based organizations, people living with and affected by hepatitis C, health care providers, payers, public health experts, researchers, harm reduction specialists and social service providers.
In March, Governor Cuomo announced New York State's commitment to eliminate hepatitis C by increasing access to testing, treatment and education in order to connect New Yorkers in high-risk communities with available services. In July, the Governor outlined his strategy for hepatitis C elimination, which included the allocation of $5 million for hepatitis C services, such as education; patient navigation; care and treatment programs in harm reduction settings; removal of insurance barriers; expansion of hepatitis C treatment capacity; Medicaid reimbursement for harm reduction services; and the expansion of syringe exchange access.
More than 100,000 New Yorkers are living with Hepatitis C—a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus—and most are unaware that they have it. Three out of four people living with hepatitis C are baby boomers. Hepatitis C is spread by blood to blood contact, with the most common risk factor for hepatitis C being injection drug use. Over the past decade, there has been a shift in the distribution of hepatitis C cases, with a distinct peak emerging among younger people aged 20 to 40, which has been fueled in part by the growing opioid epidemic.
Left untreated, hepatitis C causes cirrhosis and liver failure, resulting in liver transplant, liver cancer or death. New available treatments can cure almost all patients in just 12 weeks. The expansion of harm reduction services, outlined in the Governor's plan, will help stop hepatitis C transmission among people who inject drugs.
State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, "Thanks to Governor Cuomo, we are fortunate to be able to bring together such a dedicated group of subject matter experts to work towards ending the hepatitis C epidemic. This Task Force will bring invaluable input and direction to the process and help better the health of thousands of New Yorkers."
The Governor's Hepatitis C Elimination Task Force will pursue these initiatives over the next year and formally meet twice to advance the action items. All meetings are in the process of being scheduled and will be open to the public.
The Task Force will consist of the following members:
- Brad Hutton, Deputy Commissioner for Public Health, New York State Department of Health, Governmental Co-Chair
- Christine Kerr, MD, Hudson River Health Care, Community Co-Chair
- Gale Burstein, MD, Erie County Department of Health
- David Bernstein, Northwell Health
- Ann Winters, MD, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
- Annette Gaudino, Treatment Action Group
- Daniel Raymond, Harm Reduction Coalition
- Jack Beck, Correctional Association of New York
- Peter Hill, Native American Community Services of Erie and Niagara Counties, Inc.
- Terry Leach, PharmD, Amida Care
- Clifton Garmon, VOCAL-NY
- Ronni Marks, Hepatitis C Mentor and Support Group
- Gloria Searson, ACSW, COPE
- Denis Nash, PhD, MPH, CUNY Institute for Implementation Science in Population Health
- Charles King, Housing Works
- Terri Wilder, Mt. Sinai Institute for Advanced Medicine
- Don Des Jarlais, PhD, New York University
- John Barry, Southern Tier AIDS Program
- Luis Scaccabarrozzi, Latino Commission on AIDS
- C. Virginia Fields, National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS
- Eli Camhi, LMSW, Generative Resources, LLC
- Matthew Akiyama, MD, MSc, Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine
- Jeffrey Weiss, PhD, MS, Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai
- David Holtgrave, PhD, SUNY School of Public Health
- Raymond Ganoe, Evergreen Health Services
- Ashely Zuppelli, PharmD, Trillium Health
- Andrew Talal, MD, MPH, University of Buffalo
- Jacquelyn Kilmer, Harlem United