In recognition of National Hepatitis Testing Day on May 19, the Rhode Island Department of Health's Division of Infectious Disease and Epidemiology, Office of HIV/AIDS & Viral Hepatitis has honored Lynn E. Taylor, M.D, Fellow of the American College of Physicians (FACP), with the Excellence in Medicine Award for her work in advancing best practices that help identify more new hepatitis C patients in Rhode Island and link them to care.
The award was presented to Dr. Taylor on Friday, May 16 at a medical educational conference led by Dr. Taylor entitled, "Treating and Defeating Hep C in Rhode Island."
"Dr. Taylor's advocacy for her patients and for hepatitis screening, prevention, and treatment is an inspiration to primary care physicians throughout Rhode Island and on the front lines of public health," said Michael Fine, M.D., director of HEALTH. "The Office of HIV/AIDS & Viral Hepatitis is proud to honor her with this award."
Dr. Taylor is an HIV and viral hepatitis specialist, and internal medicine physician, focusing on prevention and treatment of hepatitis C and hepatitis B viruses in vulnerable populations. She developed and directs Miriam Hospital's HIV/Viral Hepatitis Coinfection Program. Her research, patient care, teaching and community-based efforts involve extending hepatitis C care to persons with HIV and co-existing substance disorders, and improving hepatitis C screening, diagnosis, and the way in which patients are connected to care and treatment. Dr. Taylor was also a featured speaker at the "Getting to Zero Summit on HIV and STD Testing, Prevention, and Care" in December of 2013, co-sponsored by HEALTH and the Brown University Warren Alpert Medical School.
In May 2013, Lynn E. Taylor was awarded a Rhode Island Foundation Innovation Fellowship for her project entitled, "Rhode Island Defeats Hep C," which aims to make Rhode Island the first state to eliminate hepatitis C. Dr. Taylor has received several grants, has published prolifically and has received numerous awards and honors. She is also the co-founder of MomDocFamily, which provides mentorship and support for women physicians facing the challenges and rewards of combining a medical career with motherhood. Dr. Taylor was also recently honored as the 2014 Rhode Island Medical Women's Association (RIMWA) Physician of the Year at its annual meeting on May 13.
A graduate of Harvard University and the University of Pittsburg School of Medicine, Dr. Taylor completed her residency at the Brown University School of Medicine and her research training via a National Institutes of Health Fellowship based at Miriam Hospital. She is an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Disease at the Warren Alpert School of Medicine and Director of Miriam Hospital's HIV/Viral Hepatitis Coinfection Program.
"We estimate that at least 11,000 Rhode Islanders of all ages are infected with the hepatitis C virus and many don't yet know it," said Dr. Fine. "Getting tested for hepatitis C is critical to ensuring the good health of Rhode Islanders as they grow older. A simple blood test will help protect you from complications of a virus that is often treatable."
Hepatitis C is treatable and curable with medication if it is caught early enough, underscoring why testing is crucial. Those infected with the virus can live for decades without feeling sick. Untreated hepatitis C has been linked to liver cancer and other liver disease.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends that everyone born between 1945 and 1965 be tested for hepatitis C at least once or more often if they have known risk factors. Baby boomers are five times more likely than others to be infected with hepatitis C, and people with hepatitis C often have no symptoms. Baby boomers are at particular risk because many are believed to have become infected in the 1970s and 1980s, when rates of hepatitis C acquisition were highest. Some may have become infected from contaminated blood and blood products before widespread screening of the blood supply began in 1992 and universal precautions for healthcare workers were adopted.
Others who might be at risk of hepatitis C include infants born to infected mothers, and people who inject and/or snort drugs, people who engage in sexual activity with multiple partners or have one steady infected sexual partner, healthcare or public safety workers exposed to infected persons (e.g. by needle sticks or blood), and long-term hemodialysis patients.
For help finding testing services in Rhode Island, regardless of income or insurance, visit www.health.ri.gov/testforhep or call (401) 222-5960. . For Spanish-language resources, visit health.ri.gov/pruebasdehepatitis.