Over 340,000 people are estimated to be infected with hepatitis B or C in New York City; many are unaware of their status or are out of care needed to prevent liver cancer. In 2012, Lookit Design worked with community hepatitis advocates to develop the Hep Free NYC website to serve as a communications platform to support the empowered network of health care providers necessary to end the epidemic of hepatitis B and C in NYC. The President and Co-Founder of Lookit Design, Graham Murray personally supports the effort in memory of Lookit’s Co-Founder, Joe York. Joe was a creative force in the community and a bright star in the performing arts. Before his 50th birthday, he developed an aggressive form of liver cancer, that was a result of decades of hepatitis B and HIV coinfection. Sadly, there were many missed opportunities to detect Joe’s liver cancer earlier, but awareness among patients and providers is low, and he passed away soon after his diagnosis. With heavy hearts, Lookit Design built the website in his memory, aiming to support providers, advocates, researchers, and patients, and especially to health care providers to ensure people at risk receive vaccination, screening, linkage to quality medical care, treatment and liver cancer screening. The .NYC Domain extension was chosen to clearly identify the local efforts of Hep Free NYC.
Hep Free NYC is a network comprised of the Hep B Coalition, Hep C Task Force, Hepatitis Clinical Exchange Network and committees such as the Coalition against Hepatitis in People of African Origin – NYC Chapter. The network brings together health care and social service providers, public health professionals, advocates, and consumers to network, share best practices, identify needs, and develop and implement strategies to improve health outcomes of people at risk for or living with hepatitis B and C in NYC. The website serves as the communication hub of the network, providing social media platform access, a community calendar of coalition meetings, trainings, and advocacy events, a job board to support workforce development and retention of subject matter experts in the field, important health care access tools and resources, and advocacy alerts. Hep Free NYC networks over 300 NYC organizations and over 3000 individuals, with a total reach of over 100,000 users. Hep Free NYC extends to national and international hepatitis programs that look to hepfree.nyc as a model.With the technology capabilities of the Lookit® hosting, technical support, web development and web design services, the hepfree.nyc website increases awareness and connects dedicated community advocates, health care providers and government agencies. Collectively they have made a real difference in fighting liver disease in New York City.