Representatives from community-based organizations, local and federal public health officials, NYC Council members and patient advocates gathered on the steps of city hall on May 15th to raise awareness about viral hepatitis (hepatitis B and hepatitis C). This event coincided with May’s National Hepatitis Awareness Month, which included National Hispanic Hepatitis Awareness Day (May 15th) and National Hepatitis Testing Day (May 19th).
Paul Bolter, Community Outreach and Program Manager for the GNY Division, was asked to share his personal journey living with Hepatitis C at this monumental event. Paul spoke about what is was like to find out about his diagnosis and what treatment path he was offered to eradicate this virus. During the course of his 13 years of various treatments Paul never lost sight of the big
picture, a life without Hepatitis C. Paul’s determination has not let his diagnosis alter his path in life or deter him from reaching his goals. Today Paul is undetectable for the Hepatitis C virus for the first time since his diagnosis after completing treatment this spring.
Between 3.5 and 5.3 million Americans, and 250, 000 NYC residents are living with chronic (lifelong) viral hepatitis, and most of them do not know that they are infected. Viral hepatitis is the leading cause of liver cancer and the most common reason for liver transplantation in the United States. In addition, it is a leading infectious cause of death in the U.S., claiming the lives of 12,000–18,000 Americans each year.1 In the U.S., viral hepatitis disproportionately affects the African American, Hispanic and Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.
Lisa Gallipoli, Executive Director, American Liver Foundation – Greater New York Division stated “Hepatitis Awareness Month is truly about catalyzing ACTION against Hepatitis. With the increased availability of effective treatments for Hepatitis C, we need to ensure that at-risk individuals, especially baby boomers, are asking their doctors about getting tested, and that primary care physicians are testing their patients."
In recognition of National Hepatitis Awareness Month, NYC community-based organizations hosted screening events and educational workshops in conjunction with other events taking place throughout the country. Also, Asian Week Foundation and National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable coordinated a new public service announcement (PSA) to highlight National Hepatitis Testing Day in partnership with CBS HealthWatch and scheduled to be aired on CBS from May 17 to May 19 in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and Seattle. The PSA features a call for hepatitis testing as a way to prevent liver cancer.
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