throughout New York City will be required to report
hepatitis C to the New York City Health Dept. for the
first time because of a campaign conducted by The
Queens Courier over the past few months, it was
announced last week at a Queens medical conference.
Stephen P. Esposito, the director of liver disease at
New York Hospital of Queens and an eminent researcher,
told a hepatitis conference last week that the New
York City Health Dept. has made the disease a
reportable condition because of the newspaper’s
campaign and a New York City Council health committee
hearing it provoked recently.
the Courier article, "Esposito said, "the
Health Dept. moved to make hepatitis C a reportable
disease. The newspaper made a substantial contribution
to the community by publishing the articles."
new regulation means that hepatitis C, known as the
"silent epidemic," will be tracked by
physicians throughout the city as in the case of other
just can’t wait to see the numbers a year or two
out," Dr. Esposito told a hepatitis support group
meeting June 27 at New York Hospital Medical Center of
said the new reporting mechanism is particularly
important in Queens because of the large immigrant
population here with hepatitis C.
why it’s so important to get this information
Queens liver specialist, Dr. Pat Basu, also credited
the reporting requirement to the Courier articles.
Health Dept. bombarded me with questionnaires and
documents seeking the numbers of cases I treat,"
he said. "This all occurred following the
Courier’s disclosures about the large incidence of
hepatitis C cases in Queens."
called the Health Dept. action "a good
disease affects 35 million Americans with 30,000 new
cases diagnosed every year Yet it produces no symptoms
in early stages and most people don’t know they have
it and continue to spread it.
C is reportedly four times more prevalent than the
AIDS virus and the most common reason for liver
transplants in this country.
medical conference last Sunday included presentations
by Dr. Esposito and Dr. Robert Brown, director of the
liver transplant service at Columbia Presbyterian
Hepatitis Education Liver Disease Awareness &
Patient Support Project (HELP) was attended by an
estimated 100 Queens hepatitis patients who bombarded
both physicians with questions about their disease.
organization’s founding committee members include
Teresa Abreu, chairperson and Brenda Cintron,
co-chairperson. Dr. Esposito serves as medical
advisor. It is the borough’s only Hepatitis support
answer to a question about the importance of a
hepatitis C screening program for high risk
populations, Brown said that was
I do believe this is important," he said.
"The tests should be performed in doctors’
offices and at Health Dept. stations throughout the
emphasized physician education.
pediatricians see hepatitis C as a benign
disease," he said. "And it is not."
said that a breakthrough in public understanding of
the disease is essential.
was brave gay men who demanded that government pay
attention to HIV. "We need the same statement for
introduced his patients, Thomas and Deborah Baker of
Electchester. Deborah underwent liver transplant
surgery last April 19 at Columbia Presbyterian after
she was referred to Dr. Brown by Dr. Esposito.
an electrician, said his wife was diagnosed with
hepatitis C in July of 1998. He donated a large
portion of his liver to his wife.
feeling fine now," Brown said as he clutched his
saw Dr. Esposito after her stomach became distended.
The examination revealed she had a severe case of
spent three and one-half weeks in the hospital, while
Thomas was discharged after a week at Columbia
feeling fine also," Baker said, "but I miss
responded that "you can resume playing golf
now," to cheers from the assembled crowd.
spokesperson for the New York Organ Donor Network said
that 1,158 cases are awaiting liver transplants in the
metropolitan area, while in 1998, 298 liver
transplants were performed.