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

Son of slain former Hells Angel is one of two men sentenced for crime spree

Pair’s 2017 series of Lower Mainland robberies stretched from Surrey to Mission

Debussy, Chopin, Bartok, and a selection of Celtic favourites

‘Music for a summer afternoon’ features live harp and flute performances at Trinity Western House

Vancouver Giants Scouts sticking with team for another season

Contracts extended for Head Scout Terry Bonner and Scouting Director Daryl Anning

Carson Crimeni’s mom mourns son

Chantell Griffiths misses the son she hadn’t seen much in recent years

Disney Plus to launch in Canada in November

Analysts say latest streaming service may escalate cord cutting

B.C. manhunt suspects left cellphone video before they died: family

Family member says Kam McLeod, Bryer Schmegelsky recorded final wishes

Okanagan bus driver assaulted for asking patron not to smoke

59-year-old in hospital with non-life threatening injuries

‘Person of interest’ identified after suspicious meat left in North Delta park

Piles of meat have been dumped near the 63rd Avenue trail entrance four times in the last 30 days

B.C. sets rules for ride hailing, same minimum fee as taxis

Larger operating areas seen as threat by cab companies

Two hiking families team up to extinguish fire in B.C. backcountry

Children and their parents worked for three hours to ensure safety of the popular hiking region

Oppenheimer Park residents told to leave, clear out tents by Aug. 21

Police say park has seen influx of residents, violence in recent months

Vancouver man arrested after pregnant woman’s SUV stolen, then crashed

Police are recommending charges against a 22-year-old Vancouver man

Most Read