More than two years after the New York State Hepatitis C Elimination Task Force last met, the state Department of Health has released a report based on their recommendations.
The New York State Hepatitis C Elimination Plan, which is available below, is supposed to serve as a roadmap for the state to eliminate hepatitis c as a public health problem. The report recommends creating a two-year pilot program to study the “feasibility and effectiveness of a medically supervised program where patients self-administer prescription pharmaceutical opioids” and – in recognition of the opioid epidemic as a public health emergency – the availability of “safer injection facilities across” New York.
In 2018, then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo launched the task force with the job of eliminating hepatitis C, a viral infection that can cause serious liver damage and effects more than 100,000 New Yorkers. Task force members last met in June of 2019, where they assembled final recommendations that they anticipated would be published after a short review.
Task force member Annette Gaudino told the Times Union last year that the final recommendations represented a “blue sky, shoot for the moon document” written by experts in the field.
“Nobody held back,” she said. “Obviously nobody was thinking, like let’s put in there only what won’t ruffle the governor’s feathers. People put in there what is evidence-based, and what they know is best practice.”
That included two recommendations outside the mainstream of American politics – the creation of supervised drug-injection sites and prescribing synthetic heroin alternatives – that stakeholders hadn’t included in their 2017 partnership with the state. Neither policy was embraced by the Cuomo administration.
With regards to “safer injection sites,” where New Yorkers could administer drugs under medical supervision, the report says there is three decades of research proving they prevent overdoses deaths, help link people to substance use treatment and reduce disease transmission.
“A research study has already been proposed that should be looked toward as a model of how to evaluate sites, including emphasis on their ability to engage the drug using population and reduce risky behaviors associated with transmission of HIV, HCV, and bacterial infections,” reads the report.
Hepatitis c Elimination Plan by Capitol Pressroom on Scribd