By Ashley Hupfl, Albany Bureau
ALBANY New York will require medical facilities to offer Hepatitis C testing to patients born between 1945 and 1965, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday.
The state Department of Health said that as many as 150,000 New Yorkers may not know about their potential Hepatitis C status, Gannett's Ashley Hupfl reports.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports about 75 percent of Hepatitis C infections occur in those born between 1945 and 1965, the so-called "baby boomers."
The new law which goes into effect Jan. 1 will require hospitals, clinics, and physician's offices to offer testing. The state Legislature passed the measure before the session ended in June.
"This new law will help fight Hepatitis C and keep New Yorkers safe and providing testing to those most likely to have this virus whenever they visit a medical facility," Cuomo said in a statement.
Hepatitis C is a liver disease spread through blood that slowly causes serious health problems like liver damage, cirrhosis, liver cancer and even death. It often has no symptoms and people can live a long time without feeling sick.
The CDC said it is not completely known why baby boomers are more affected by Hepatitis C than others, but have surmised that it may have been caused by contaminated blood before widespread screening began in 1992.
"Hepatitis C is known as the 'silent killer' because it can attack your liver for over a decade before you exhibit any symptoms. Recent estimates suggest that 1 out of 30 baby boomers could be infected with as many as 75 percent unaware," Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski, D-New City, Rockland County, who sponsored the legislation, said in statement.