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New York hospitals, health providers required to offer tests to baby boomers for hepatitis C

A new law was signed Wednesday that will better protect New Yorker baby boomer from hepatitis C by requiring hospitals and health providers to offer testing for the virus to all patients born between 1945 and 1965

Cuomo bio"Hepatitis C is a debilitating and potentially fatal disease that disproportionately affects the baby boomer generation in New York and nationwide," Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said.

"This new law will help fight hepatitis C and keep New Yorkers safe by providing testing to those most likely to have this virus whenever they visit a medical facility,” Cuomo said.

About 75 percent of hepatitis C infections and about 73 percent of hepatitis C-associated deaths occurs in people born between 1945 and 1965 – baby boomers, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

New York State Department of Health statistics show that as many as 150,000 New Yorkers are unaware they have hepatitis C.

The new law will ensure that all people born between 1945 and 1965 are offered a hepatitis C screening test or diagnostic test when they’re a patient at a hospital, clinic, or a physician's office.

"Offering a screening test to the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers whose lives could be saved or improved is common sense and good preventive medicine,” said Beth Finkel, AARP New York State director. “AARP applauds Governor Cuomo for making New York a national leader on this critical issue by signing this bill into law.”

AARP supported the bill in the New York State Assembly.

The new law will take effect on January 1.

Copyright 2013, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist

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