Gay Men’s Health Crisis Expands Testing Services to Offer Free, Rapid Hepatitis C (HCV) Testing
New Testing Services Will Promote Early Detection & Prevent Spread of Deadly Hep. C Virus
October 10, 2016 - New York, New York - Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) will begin providing rapid Hepatitis C (HCV) testing and linkage to care as part of the agency’s approach to suppressing the HCV epidemic, which adversely affects those living with HIV. GMHC was granted approval from the New York State Department of Health’s Clinical Laboratory Evaluation Program. Testing will be conducted at GMHC’s David Geffen Center for HIV Prevention and Health Education (224 West 29th Street in Manhattan) using the OraQuick HCV Rapid Test, which takes only 20 minutes to conduct, and is over 98 percent accurate at detecting antibodies for HCV.
HCV is a leading cause of death for people with HIV. Nationwide, 3.6 million people in the United States are living with the disease, and deaths from HCV-related disease — hepatic and extrahepatic — now surpass those caused by HIV. Unfortunately, it is estimated that approximately 50% of people living with HCV are unaware that they are infected. In New York State, as of 2014, the offering of a HCV screening test is required by law for individuals born between 1945 and 1965 who are receiving inpatient hospital care or primary care.
“We cannot end AIDS as an epidemic if we do not address Hepatitis C, which is a leading cause of death for people with HIV.” said GMHC CEO Kelsey Louie. “If we do not take this disease seriously, tens of thousands of New Yorkers may go on to discover that they have advanced and life-threatening liver disease. Yet it does not have to be this way. HCV is treatable, and in most cases, curable upon diagnosis. Our new, rapid testing program promotes early and effortless detection and we are proud to introduce these vital testing services that many in the HCV-positive community so desperately – and sometimes unknowingly – need.”
GMHC’s HCV testing services are designed to reduce the transmission rates and effects of HCV by targeting at-risk individuals for testing. This includes the children of HCV-infected mothers, drug users, health care workers, and individuals with high-risk sexual behavior or other sexually transmitted diseases. Individuals that test positive for HCV will be immediately linked to health care services in order to get the treatment that they require. The new testing service is being made possible with the support of the Calamus Foundation.
About Gay Men's Health Crisis
Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) is the nation's leading provider of HIV and AIDS care, prevention services and advocacy, serving nearly 10,000 people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS in New York City, the epicenter of the epidemic in the U.S. As the world's first HIV and AIDS service organization, GMHC is an expert in providing services that every person affected by the epidemic deserves. GMHC is on the front lines caring for people who are both HIV negative and positive, including: testing, nutrition, legal, mental health and education services. GMHC also advocates for stronger public policies at the local, state and federal level with the goal of ending AIDS as an epidemic in New York State by 2020. Most recently, GMHC and other HIV and AIDS organizations successfully persuaded the federal government to recommend widespread use of PrEP, a new daily treatment that is over 90% effective in preventing HIV infection. For more information, visit www.gmhc.org .
"Reproduced with permission - GMHC"
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