Hepatitis C (HCV) is a blood-borne virus that can cause chronic liver disease, serious liver damage, and liver failure. Hepatitis C can be detected, treated, and cured—yet half of people living with Hepatitis C don’t know they’re infected. The African-American community is especially impacted—they are more than twice as likely to be living with HCV compared to the general population in the United States.
National African American Hepatitis C Action Day on July 25, spearheaded by the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS (NBLCA), draws attention to the disproportionately high rates of Hepatitis C among African Americans.
Later that week, July 28 is World Hepatitis Day, which puts the spotlight on the 325 million people worldwide living with chronic hepatitis B or chronic Hepatitis C.
These awareness days give health care experts, including those at Amida Care, an opportunity to educate people about the crucial need to get tested and undergo treatment. Hepatitis C can be cured! Amida Care, a New York City Medicaid special needs health plan, has treated more than 1,200 members for Hepatitis C, with a 95 percent cure rate.
In the African American community, chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, often Hepatitis C-related, were among the leading causes of death in people 45 to 64 years of age. African Americans comprise approximately 11% of the U.S. population, but represent 25% of people with chronic hepatitis C infections.
Many people who have the disease do not show symptoms, so it’s essential to get tested. Regardless of race or ethnicity, the CDC recommends anyone who was born from 1945 to 1965 get tested for Hepatitis C. A blood test can determine if a person has ever been infected with the virus. New medications that can cure Hepatitis C are fast acting and have no serious side effects, so getting tested and treated before serious damage has been done to your liver could literally save your life. Click here to find free and low-cost testing in New York City.
You also can check out these resources:
• Project Inspire: NYC Hep C Care Coordination Program for Medicaid and Medicare Recipients
• Hep Free NYC Network
• New York State Department of Health
• National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS (NBLCA)
Amida Care currently serves 7,000 members throughout the five boroughs of New York City, including people living with HIV/AIDS; people of transgender experience, regardless of HIV status, and people who are experiencing homelessness, regardless of HIV status. Confidential answers are available at 1-855-GO-AMIDA (1-855-462-6432) (TTY 711).