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Press Releases

On World Leprosy Day, NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue Recognizes Its Hansen’s Disease Clinic, Which Provides Treatment and Fights Stigma of Leprosy

Hansen's disease is very rare in the U.S. and is 100% curable with antibiotics; the Bellevue Hospital conducts approximately 440 patient visits a year

Bellevue Hospital, in partnership with the National Hansen's Disease Program, has the only dedicated Hansen's Disease Clinic in the mid-Atlantic states

Jan 31, 2024

This month, the Hansen’s Disease Clinic, part of the Department of Dermatology at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue, joined the international community in recognizing World Leprosy Day to raise awareness and stop the stigma surrounding this ancient disease. While rare in the United States, there are up to 250 new cases each year; Hansen’s Disease, as leprosy is now known, is 100% curable. The Bellevue Hospital clinic conducts approximately 440 patient visits a year and is the only Hansen’s Disease clinic in the Mid-Atlantic region, which includes New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia. The clinic has provided treatment and care for leprosy patients since 1985. World Leprosy Day is the last Sunday in January.

“The work of our dedicated team at the Hansen’s Disease Clinic at Bellevue has helped to improve Hansen’s outcomes and remove stigma surrounding this misunderstood disease,” said Miriam Pomeranz, MD, Chief of Dermatology, NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue.

William R. Levis, MD, Dermatologist and Hansen’s Disease Clinic Attending Physician, NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue, said: “Our clinic welcomes patients with the disease, and the first thing I tell every patient is that leprosy is 100% curable. Our team of compassionate providers is dedicated to a patient’s confidentiality and privacy.”

While many people around the world continue to suffer from this disease because of lack of access to basic medical care and the shame associated with the illness, antibiotics can help completely cure patients in six to twenty-four months. If left untreated, the nerve damage caused by the disease can result in paralysis of the hands and feet, and blindness.

Caused by slow-growing bacterium known as Mycobacterium leprae, leprosy is difficult to catch and is spread by respiratory droplets through long term contact with a person who is already infected. More than 95% of all people have natural immunity to the disease, but once infected it usually takes many years to develop symptoms. There is some evidence that some armadillos may carry the infection in the United States.


MEDIA CONTACT: BellevuePublicRelations@nychhc.org, 212-562-4516


About NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue
NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue is America’s oldest public hospital, established in 1736. Affiliated with the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, the 851-bed hospital is a major referral center for highly complex cases, with 6,000 employees including highly skilled, interdisciplinary clinical staff. The hospital is a Level 1 Trauma Center and annually it sees about 103,000 emergency room visits, more than 520,000 outpatient visits, and almost 200,000 visits to our COVID-19 testing and vaccine centers. Clinical centers of excellence include: Emergency Medicine and Trauma Care; Cardiovascular Services; Bariatric Surgery; Designated Regional Perinatal Center and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit; Children’s Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program; and Cancer Services. For more information, visit www.nychealthandhospitals.org/bellevue and follow us on Facebook and X(Twitter).

About NYC Health + Hospitals
NYC Health + Hospitals is the largest municipal health care system in the nation serving more than a million New Yorkers annually in more than 70 patient care locations across the city’s five boroughs. A robust network of outpatient, neighborhood-based primary and specialty care centers anchors care coordination with the system’s trauma centers, nursing homes, post-acute care centers, home care agency, and MetroPlus health plan—all supported by 11 essential hospitals. Its diverse workforce of more than 43,000 employees is uniquely focused on empowering New Yorkers, without exception, to live the healthiest life possible. For more information, visit www.nychealthandhospitals.org and stay connected on FacebookTwitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.