National African American Hepatitis C Action Day (NAAHCAD), a national mobilization initiative officially proclaimed in July 2013, is aimed at reducing the high incidence of Hepatitis C infection in black communities. The National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, Inc. (NBLCA), Coalition On Positive Health Empowerment (C.O.P.E.), and Harm Reduction Coalition will present their second annual Hepatitis C Action Day on Friday, July 25, throughout the nation.
To promote awareness and draw attention to this neglected health disparity, the NAAHCAD initiative targets areas where the virus has the greatest impact on the African American population. With the assistance of local health partners, government agencies, and elected officials, free testing and informational events will be offered throughout the day in various cities of the United States.
In New York City, NAAHCAD will kick off with an invitation-only breakfast forum, “Sound the Alarm: Hepatitis C and Its Impact on the Black Community,” at the Alhambra Ballroom in Harlem. Moderated by Ms. Fields, the forum is intended as a call to action for community stakeholders and health care professionals throughout the city’s five boroughs to combat Hepatitis C. The forum will be followed by a Hepatitis C Community Health Fair from 11 am to 4 pm at the Adam Clayton Powell State Building Plaza, 163 West 125th Street (corner of Adam Clayton Powell Blvd.) in Harlem. Presented by NBLCA, C.O.P.E., and the Harm Reduction Coalition, the health fair is free and open to the public and will feature free screening, guidance, and resources, as well as music, dance demonstrations, and activities for children.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 3.2 million Americans—more than 75 percent of whom are “Baby Boomers” born between 1945 and 1965—are infected with the Hepatitis C virus (HCV), and, because there are often no noticeable symptoms, most don’t know they are infected. An estimated 22 percent of people living with chronic Hepatitis C are African American, a higher rate than whites and other racial and ethnic groups.
HCV, transmitted by blood-to-blood contact, can be detected through a simple blood test. It is a leading cause of potentially fatal liver diseases such as cirrhosis and liver cancer. “We call this a ‘day of action’ because we need to ensure that deliberate actions are taken to stem the tide of the Hepatitis C epidemic in black communities throughout the nation,” said NBLCA President and former Harlem city council member CEO C. Virginia Fields. “NBLCA and its partners are working together to create awareness about this critical and under-recognized health problem.”
A public service campaign made possible by the NYS Department of Health AIDS Institute, “Hepatitis C: The Silent Killer,” features bus shelter advertisements in Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse, as well as public service announcements on radio stations throughout the state. Announcements are also running on radio stations in several other U.S. cities.