More than 100,000 New Yorkers are living with hepatitis C, and most are unaware that they have it. The virus is spread by blood to blood contact, with the most common risk factor being injection drug use. Over the past decade, there has been a distinct peak in cases emerging among younger people aged 20 to 40, fueled in part by the growing opioid epidemic.
In March, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced New York State’s commitment to eliminate hepatitis C by increasing access to testing, treatment and education to connect vulnerable New Yorkers with available services. On Thursday, Governor Cuomo announced the members selected to join the Task Force that will advise the state on its Hepatitis C Elimination Plan.
Among the appointees is Dr. Denis Nash, distinguished professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy and executive director of the CUNY Institute for Implementation Science in Population Health (ISPH).
Dr. Nash will co-chair the Surveillance, Data, and Metrics Workgroup of the new Hepatitis C Elimination Task Force. He previously served on another task force convened by Governor Cuomo, which was charged with developing a blueprint for New York’s groundbreaking ‘Ending the HIV Epidemic’ Initiative. Out of this came the Ending the Epidemic Dashboard, developed and maintained by CUNY ISPH, which compiles and disseminates metrics that monitor the initiative’s progress.
“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,” Dr. Nash says. “We can and will achieve hepatitis C virus elimination in New York!”
“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 in a press release. “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.”