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Call to City Council to Expand Funding for Life-Saving Hepatitis B Program

June 12, 2008

A resolution establishing the goal of screening and vaccination of all New York City residents at risk for chronic hepatitis B virus infection will be introduced at the NYC Council's stated meeting on Thursday afternoon. To rally support for the introduction, local doctors from the "B Free New York City Hepatitis Program" will join NYC Council Members and representatives from the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH) on the steps of City Hall at 9:30am. The group will also call on the NYC Council to expand funding for the highly successful Hepatitis B screening and treament program to $3.5 million for FY 09.

"B Free New York City" is a comprehensive community participatory-based program, funded by the City Council, that works with the NYC DOHMH to provide screening, vaccination, and care to people with or at risk of infection, mostly in Asian American populations and other immigrant communities in NYC including: Chinese, Southeast Asian, Sub-Saharan African, some Carribean islanders, and Eastern Europeans. Chronic Hepatitis B infection is the most important cause of liver cancer and liver failure worldwide. Of the approximately 1.5 million cases in the United States, 150,000 or 10% infected are NYC residents. Preventing and treating can reduce morbidity and mortality, saving the City and the State money for health care and social services.

A low cost blood test is readily available and new infections can be prevented by a safe and effective (first ever anti-cancer) vaccine. The money requested will allow the program to reinstate the city-wide screening and vaccination program that was suspended because of budget cuts.

To read the text of the resolution, click here.