On June 20, the New York State Assembly passed a bill that, if signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, would require healthcare providers to offer hepatitis C screening to New Yorkers between the ages 45 and 65 when they visit a doctor or hospital. Hepatitis C spreads through contact with an infected person’s blood. Baby boomers who injected drugs or had a blood transfusion before widespread screening of blood began in 1992 might have a higher risk of hepatitis C.
CDC estimated that 20,000 New Yorkers, mostly baby boomers, might have hepatitis C without being aware they had the virus. Hepatitis C often causes no symptoms for many years, but in time can cause liver damage and disease, including liver cancer.
In spite of CDC’s screening recommendations, the Medical Society of the State of New York opposed the bill because the US Preventive Services Task Force did not recommend routine screening for adults at low risk for hepatitis C. The American Association of Retired Persons backed signing of the bill, which Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Long Island) and Assembly Member Kenneth Zebrowski (D-New York City) originally introduced.