Good morning. Thank you to members of Council for passing this resolution. My name is Stacy Trooksin. I'm an infectious disease physician at Drexel University College of Medicine. I'm a public health researcher, and I'm the proud community co-chair of the grassroots organization called HepCap, Hepatitis C Allies of Philadelphia. But today I'm here as a concerned citizen about my city.
Hepatitis C is the most common blood-born infection in the United States. It is five times more common than HIV, yet has a fraction of the funding. Hepatitis C is often called the silent killer, where infected individuals are asymptomatic for as long as two decades before showing signs of liver disease associated with cirrhosis or liver cancer. Fifty to 75 percent of individuals infected are unaware that they're infected.
The vast majority of these individuals are baby boomers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognize the urgency of increasing the number of baby boomers aware of their Hepatitis C status by recommending that all individuals born between 1945 and 1965 be tested once in their lifetime. The reason to test is simple: Hepatitis C can be cured. Knowing your status allows individuals to get into care so they can learn how to keep their liver healthy and obtain the medication they need to be cured of infection.
Philadelphia is uniquely positioned to become a leader in the fight against Hepatitis C. We have five major academic centers with liver transplant programs. We have physicians, community-based organizations, and talented staff at the Department of Public Health that are passionate about this cause and are ready to serve. We have HepCap to harness all of this energy into action but, most importantly, we have 40,000 individuals already diagnosed with Hepatitis C in Philadelphia and many, many more unaware of their diagnoses.
Our citizens deserve to know their Hepatitis C status. We can do better, and the CDC says we should do better. If we don't, Philadelphia's baby boomers will eventually learn of their HCV diagnoses, but unfortunately, it will be because they have developed symptoms, like accumulation of fluid in the abdomen, confusion, jaundice, and varices, which can result in internal bleeding.
Not only will this result in preventable deaths, but it will result in millions and millions of healthcare dollars needlessly spent on managing end-stage liver disease, liver cancer, and for a few of the lucky ones liver transplant.
We have a cure for Hepatitis C, and now there are over 90 drugs in development that will make the treatments that we have shorter in duration, easier to tolerate, and more efficacious.
I invite you all to become a champion in this effort. Support this mission and join HepCap. Members of Council, you will find information in your folders about how your districts are affected by Hepatitis C. You will also find some red and yellow ribbons that you can wear in support of this cause. You'll find information about HepCap, including our website and our next meeting at the Department of Health at 500 South Broad Street on June 5th at 5:30, and we invite everybody in the room to come. We hope to see you there.