Hepatitis C screening now offered at five Calgary London Drugs locations
Unique collaboration between doctors and pharmacists expands access to
Hepatitis C screening now offered at five London Drugs locations in Calgary, helping to make testing and treatment for the potentially liver-destroying virus more accessible. Patients can now undertake a simple finger prick test at the pharmacy to check if they have been exposed to hepatitis C virus (HCV). The test, called the OraQuick HCV rapid antibody test, is more than 99 per cent accurate at detecting HCV antibodies and provides results in 20 minutes.
According to Alberta Health Services (AHS), an estimated 24,000 Albertans live with chronic hepatitis C and many are unaware they harbor the blood-borne virus because it can take decades before symptoms become evident.
“You can carry this infection for decades in your liver and actually have no symptoms at all – until the end stages of the disease. That’s why screening and early diagnosis is critically important,” says Dr. Matthew Sadler, a physician at the Foothills Medical Centre’s Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology and clinical assistant professor at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine. “Offering hepatitis C screening in the community helps increase awareness of the disease, and expands access to treatment by offering a point-of-care testing option that some, such as those without a family doctor, may find more convenient,” he says.
Recent guidelines published by the Canadian Association for the Study of the Liver recommend that all Canadians born between 1945 and 1975 get tested.
“Making hepatitis C screening quick and convenient right in the pharmacy and working collaboratively with doctors, we can ensure those who test positive will get the treatment and follow-up care they need,” says Aaron Lo, Pharmacy Manager at London Drugs.
“There is a lot of misinformation about hepatitis C. The cure rate is above 95 per cent now and the treatment is relatively simple. It involves taking antiviral medications daily for eight to 12 weeks,” says Lo.
Hepatitis C screening is available at the following London Drugs locations in Calgary. Patients should call the pharmacy to book an appointment. The cost of the test is $24.