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

B.C. Interior free from measles

Vancouver measles outbreak hasn’t spread to the B.C. Interior

Selkirk College opens up debate on sports team name, logo

Asking for public comment on ‘Saints’ name until March 1

Man injured in police shooting near Nelson has died

The death follows an incident in Bonnington on Feb. 13

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

Lemon Creek fuel truck driver gets $20,000 fine

Danny LaSante was sentenced in Nelson court today

Sell regulated heroin to curb B.C.’s overdose problem: report

B.C. Centre on Substance Use points to organized crime and money-laundering as contributing factors

More people signing up for compulsory vaccines

Maple Ridge mom says public tired of hearing about measles

B.C. legislature moving suspended staff controversy to outside review

Whale watching, Seattle Mariners trips billed as emergency preparedness

UPDATE: Man charged in stabbing of woman, off-duty cop outside B.C. elementary school

Manoj George, 49, is facing two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of assault with a weapon after the incident on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

Why do zebras have stripes? Perhaps to dazzle away flies

Researchers from University of Bristol look into why zebras have stripes

Poll: More voters believe Canada doing worse under Trudeau government

22 per cent believed the country is doing better and 27 per cent said things are the same

HBC shuttering Home Outfitters across Canada

North America’s oldest retailer is revamping its various stores to improve profitability

BC SPCA investigates Okanagan woman with prior animal abuse convictions

BC SPCA is investigating a property near Vernon

Man wanted for sex trafficking, confinement may be heading to B.C.

Kevin Myrthil, 26, is also accused of assault on a 19-year-old woman at an Edmonton hotel

Most Read