COUNTY PRESS RELEASE
NEW CITY, NY – In recognition of Hepatitis Awareness Month,
Rockland County Executive Ed Day, State Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski and
Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert today called on all
local Baby Boomers – the generation born from 1945 through 1965 – to get
a one-time test for the Hepatitis C virus. According to the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention, Hepatitis C infects about one in
every 30 Baby Boomers, with as many as 75% of those unaware of their
“The CDC says three million Americans are living with Hepatitis C and
most don’t know they’re infected – placing them at serious risk for
liver disease, cancer and death,” said County Executive Day. “We must
do more to raise awareness of the life-saving need for testing in our
growing population of Baby Boomers.”
“This month is a great opportunity for the public to learn more about
this disease and who could be at risk. I urge the over 80,000 Rockland
residents who are born between 1945 and 1965 to talk to their doctor
about Hepatitis C and how they can be proactive. Hepatitis C is a
silent disease, and unfortunately, disproportionately affects baby
boomers the most. This simple test can prevent a potential health
epidemic from developing, saving thousands of lives,” said Assemblyman
New York State became the first state in the nation to pass a
Hepatitis C testing law aimed at encouraging Baby Boomers to get tested.
Starting on January 1, 2014, primary care doctors are required to offer
“Boomers” a one-time test that will bring awareness to this now
Hepatitis C can lead to serious liver diseases, including liver
cancer (the fastest-rising cause of cancer-related deaths) and is the
leading cause of liver transplants in the United States. The virus is
typically spread by blood and before widespread screening began in 1992,
Hepatitis C was unknowingly spread through blood transfusions and organ
transplants putting those born between 1945-1965 at the highest risk.
The CDC estimates Hepatitis C testing of people between 49 and 69
years of age could identify more than 800,000 additional people with the
disease. With new and cutting edge treatment available that can cure
up to 90 percent of infections, expanded testing and awareness can save
lives. Early detection will avoid the costly long term treatments
related to liver disease.
“Once infected, nearly eight in 10 people will have Hepatitis C for
life,” said Health Commissioner Ruppert. ”A simple blood test is the
only way to know if you’ve ever been infected. If it’s positive, you’ll
need a follow-up test to learn if you’re still infected. Without it,
you can’t get the care you need. Successful treatment can get rid of
the virus from the body and help prevent further damage. It may save
While May is nationally known as Hepatitis Awareness Month, New York
State will specifically recognize it as Hepatitis C Awareness Month,
with May 19th as Hepatitis Testing Day in the United States. Hepatitis
Testing Day is an opportunity to remind health care providers and the
public who should be tested for viral hepatitis.
Residents of Rockland County will come together this weekend to honor
Hepatitis C survivors, remember those lost to the virus and fight back
against the illness during a charity walk in Clarkstown.
The 2.6 mile
Hepatitis C walk will take place on Saturday, May 17th from 9 a.m. to 11
a.m. at Congers Lake Memorial Park in Congers, with free testing
available to the public. For more information on the walk and how to
receive a free Hepatitis C test, visit www.kenzebrowskimemorialfund.org.
Individuals who may be at risk are encouraged to speak with their primary care physician about receiving a screening test.
In Rockland County, free Hepatitis C testing is also administered by
Hudson Valley Community Services in Spring Valley. Visit
hudsonvalleycs.org or call (845) 471-0707 for more information. Testing
is by appointment.