Hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease that can destroy people’s health and lives. Liver disease, liver cancer and deaths from hepatitis C are on the rise in New Jersey and across the country. Between 3 and 4 million people in the United States have hepatitis C. More than 150,000 people are infected in New Jersey alone.
Because hepatitis C often has no symptoms, people can go for decades without discovering they have it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that anyone born between 1945 and 1965 get tested for hepatitis C. Three quarters of the people with hepatitis C are in this age group. African Americans and veterans in this age group have substantially higher rates of hepatitis C infection.
Senate Bill 1279/Assembly Bill A3337 would require that hospitals and health care professionals offer hepatitis C testing to people in this age group. This will effectively focus the fight on those who are at greatest risk. The bill will also expand rapid hepatitis C testing making it easier and faster for people to be tested and get their test results.