Example of a hepatitis C screening test in the U.S., similar to new pilot program in Metro Vancouver (Black Press Media files)

HEALTH

New 20-minute hepatitis C screening test launches in Metro Vancouver

London Drugs pilot hopes to help diagnose thousands that are unaware they have the virus

With just a simple finger prick, people in Metro Vancouver can check if they have been exposed to hepatitis C, as part of a new pilot project.

Five London Drugs locations in the Lower Mainland – four in Vancouver and one in South Surrey – launched the new screening program Friday.

At the cost of $24, anyone can undergo the OraQuick HCV rapid antibody test, which provides a result in 20 minutes.

Dr. Alnoor Ramji, a Hepatitis C specialist and clinical associate professor of medicine at UBC, said that there are approximately 80,000 British Columbians believed to be infected with the virus, making B.C. one of the highest rates of new cases per year in the country.

More than 75 per cent of those that harbour the blood-borne virus are baby boomers, born between 1945 and 1975, but ma not know because it can take decades before symptoms become evident.

“We need to raise awareness about the importance of getting tested and increase access to screening – particularly for this age group – so that we can start to treat affected individuals early,” Ramji said.

If a test comes up positive, pharmacists will refer patients to their family doctor for a diagnostic lab test and provide initial counselling.

Advocates hope the easy-access screening can get to those at risk early, preventing more serious symptoms including liver disease, cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure.

Daryl Luster with the Pacific Hepatitis C Network was one of the luck ones to go for years undiagnosed but is now cured.

“Hepatitis C is a silent epidemic partly because most people do not know if they are infected but also because the stigma of the disease has created barriers to diagnosis and treatment,” he said.

“Expanding access to screening through pharmacies will help improve access to treatment and curative therapy, and erode the stigma associated with the disease. B.C. is set to be a leader in the elimination of hepatitis C.”

Locations offering screening test:


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Eighty athletes compete at Biathlon BC Cup race in Quesnel

Two-day event at Hallis Lake features beginners, national-calibre racers and recreational athletes

Column: This and that for seniors in Quesnel

Regular Observer columnist Ruth Scoullar writes about what’s happening and shares some good advice

Forestry Hockey League Highlights: Week 17

Bear Communications and Fraser River GM notch key wins

British Columbia Rodeo Association releases tentative 2019 schedule

The BCRA season opens with the Williams Lake Indoor Rodeo April 26-28, comes to Quesnel July 19-21

Quesnel Women’s Resource Centre wins $500 for Deeds Well Done

There were 28 nominations to the campaign in Quesnel

UPDATE: B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, personal expense claims

Clerk Craig James, security chief Gary Lenz call allegations ‘completely false’

B.C. man fined $10,000 after leaving moose to suffer before death

Surrey man was convicted last week on three Wildlife Act charges

‘Blue Monday’ isn’t real, but depression can be

CMHA encourages people to prioritize their mental health

Anti-pipeline group wants NEB to consider impact of emissions, climate change

Stand.earth filed NEB motion asking to apply same standard to the project as it did with Energy East pipeline

Parole granted for drunk driver who killed B.C. RCMP officer

Kenneth Jacob Fenton will be able to attend alcohol abuse treatment, nearly three years after crash that killed Const. Sarah Beckett

B.C. man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

B.C.’s largest public-sector union wants inquiry into money laundering, drugs

Union officials say Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby have not ruled out the possibility of a public inquiry

Teen in confrontation with Native American: I didn’t provoke

Nick Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School said he was trying to defuse the situation

Cariboo man pleads guilty to second degree murder in death of former girlfriend

Michael Martel admits to violent attack on Vesna Dumpstrey-Soos in 100 Mile House

Most Read