The Health Department, the Fund for Public Health in New York and five community partners – the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center, Weill Cornell Medical College, VNSNY Choice and HealthFirst – announced today that they have received a $10 million Health Care Innovation Award from the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services to focus on hepatitis C (HCV). Project INSPIRE NYC(Innovate & Network to Stop HCV & Prevent complications via Integrating care, Responding to needs and Engaging patients & providers) aims to achieve:

  1. Better care, by increasing the number of patients starting hepatitis C therapy, strengthening management of behavioral health problems, reducing hospitalizations and emergency department visits, and maintaining a high level of satisfaction among enrollees;
  2. Better health, with increased hepatitis C cure rates, fewer hepatitis C-related complications, and increased screening for depression and alcohol abuse; and
  3. Lower costs, by reducing expenses from preventable hospitalizations, emergency department visits, and complications of hepatitis C infection.
New York City
New York City map/Public domain image/Franklin Baldo via Wikimedia Commons

“Project INSPIRE NYC brings together an outstanding partnership for an innovative model for increased access to much-needed care for people with hepatitis C in New York City. It responds to advances in medical care that now make chronic hepatitis C a curable disease. And it can be sustained and replicated on a larger scale,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett. “Far too many New Yorkers are infected, but haven’t been tested and treated. This grant is one part of the Department’s response to this deadly epidemic.”

An estimated 146,500 New Yorkers have chronic hepatitis C, though about half do not know that they are infected. Hepatitis C is a liver disease that results from infection with the hepatitis C virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness. Hepatitis C is usually spread when blood from a person infected with hepatitis C enters the blood stream of someone who is not infected. Today, people most often become infected with hepatitis C by sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs. Before 1992, when widespread screening of the blood supply began in the United States, hepatitis C was also commonly spread through blood transfusions.

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