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

In health care, it does take a team

Julie Lowes is the manager at the Queen Victoria Hospital in Revelstoke

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: A sunny Easter Sunday

Temperatures will peak at approximately 20C region-wide

Revelstoke ladies make 2,200 cabbage rolls for charity

The money raised was donated to former NHL player Aaron Volpatti, who is raising funds for ALS

Revelstoke Golf Club open weeks early

The club didn’t open until May last year

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: Clear skies and pushing 20 C

Environement Canada forcasts a sunny and warm Easter weekend

Update: Fire destroys Peachland home on Somerset Avenue

Crews are still on scene pumping water onto the blaze

Kootnekoff: Easter Bunny legal woes

Several years ago, our young daughter needed to know: “Is Santa Claus… Continue reading

Okanagan fire department rescues kittens

Enderby homeowner not aware cats were in wood pile in yard near garbage pile fire that got away

Okanagan township’s open burning winds down

Spallumcheen reminds residents of regulation changes as open burning concludes April 30

QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Take this short quiz and put your knowledge to the test

B.C. VIEWS: NDP’s lawyer show is turning into a horror movie

Court actions pile up over pipelines, car insurance, care aides

Global Affairs warns Canadians in Sri Lanka there could be more attacks

A series of bomb blasts killed at least 207 people and injured hundreds more

Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Most Read