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SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

Office of Communications & Marketing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 9, 2020
MEDIA CONTACT: Dawn S. Walker  | Dawn.walker@downstate.edu | (347) 533-2071

SUNY Downstate STAR Program launches #FasterThan campaign to promote HEP C Testing

FasterThan ImageBROOKLYN, NY — The Special Treatment and Research (STAR) Program at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University announced the launch of the #FasterThan campaign, a new marketing effort to raise awareness about the hepatitis C virus (HCV).

HCV is one of the leading health problems in Brooklyn. As of 2018, Brooklyn has New York City's highest rate of newly reported chronic HCV cases (27.5 per 100,000 people). In Brooklyn, Brighton Beach, East New York, and Seagate/Coney Island are the neighborhoods with the hightest HCV rates. Left untreated, HCV can cause severe liver damage, scarring of the liver (cirrhosis) and Liver Cancer.

The #FasterThan campaign is aimed at dispelling the negative advertising narrative about HCV testing and treatment. Too often, HCV ads scare people away with medical terms and morbid effects, resulting in fewer tests and more people remaining undiagnosed, and ultimately, untreated.

"The #FasterThan campaign's goal is to normalize HCV testing and to create an urgency for routine testing among providers," said STAR Program Director Jack DeHovitz, M.D. "The campaign features relatable tag lines that people can easily identify with such as 'the wait for getting tested is #fasterthan a coffee run."

The STAR Program's ambulatory care program—the STAR Health Center—has provided specialized HCV care from doctors, counselors, and peer educators for nearly 15 years. The STAR Health Center provides the following services at Downstate and at STAR-Brookdale: HCV screening, comprehensive HCV medical care by physicians with specific HCV expertise, HCV anti-viral therapy and monitoring in consultation with a gastroenterologist or hepatologist, post-treatment evaluation and management, mental health services, nutritional education, substance use treatment and referrals, adherence education, as well as peer education.

"We hope that the connection made to the ad generates a call to action and will encourage healthcare providers to be intentional about encouraging their patients to seek HCV testing," said Hepatitis C program coordinator Alecia Charles, MPH.

#FasterThan will also encourage healthcare providers to educate patients about HCV and offer the test as part of a comprehensive screening for sexually transmitted infections by pairing it with HIV screening and other routine tests. Designed by the STAR Program's social media and marketing consultant, Jose Iorio, the campaign will feature ads on dating apps and social media platforms. To learn more about the #FasterThan campaign, click here.

About the STAR Program

The STAR Program was established in 1991 to integrate HIV-related care, research, and clinical education. Since then, the STAR Health Center expanded beyond HIV care offering primary care, hepatitis C (HCV) screening and treatment, PrEP, PEP, behavioral health services, harm reduction, buprenorphine treatment, an LGBTQ wellness program, and re-entry services for the formerly incarcerated. STAR provides multiple HIV training programs for healthcare providers and participates in numerous research programs, including the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study/Women's Interagency HIV Study Combined Cohort Study (MACS/WIHS-CCS). STAR services expanded to the One Brooklyn Health System at Brookdale Hospital Medical Center in 2017.

 

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About SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University is the borough’s only academic medical center for health education, research, and patient care, and is a 342-bed facility serving the healthcare needs of New York City, and Brooklyn’s 2.6 million residents. University Hospital of Brooklyn (UHB) is Downstate’s teaching hospital, backed by the expertise of an outstanding medical school and the research facilities of a world-class academic center. More than 800 physicians, representing 53 specialties and subspecialties—many of them ranked as tops in their fields—comprise Downstate's staff.

A regional center for cardiac care, neonatal and high-risk infant services, pediatric dialysis, and transplantation, Downstate also houses a major learning center for children with physical ailments or neurological disorders. In addition to UHB, Downstate comprises a College of Medicine, College of Nursing, School of Health Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, a School of Public Health, and a multifaceted biotechnology initiative, including the Downstate Biotechnology Incubator and BioBAT for early-stage and more mature companies, respectively. For more information, visit www.downstate.edu or follow us on Twitter at @sunydownstate.