London Drugs now offers accessible hepatitis C screening at locations in BC and Alberta
Nine in ten people living with viral hepatitis are unaware that they have the life-threatening infection because it can take decades before symptoms become evident. New testing guidelines recommend that all Canadians born between 1945 and 1975 get screened. There is an elevated risk among that age group due to inferior infection prevention and control practices, and blood products that went unscreened prior to 1992.
Anyone can now be screened for hepatitis C with the simple finger prick test at London Drugs locations throughout BC and Alberta. The test, called the OraQuick HCV rapid antibody test, is more than 99% accurate at detecting HCV antibodies and provides results in 20 minutes. The cost of the test is $24.
In the case of a positive antibody result, pharmacists will notify the patient’s family physician so that a confirmatory blood test can be ordered. In the case of a positive result, the patient is referred to a specialist for further evaluation and treatment. Pharmacists provide education about the curative therapies available and support patients throughout their journey from treatment to cure. The treatment is relatively simple; it involves taking antiviral medications daily for eight to 12 weeks. Current therapies can cure over 95% of people with hepatitis C.
In an effort to improve access to testing and treatment for the potentially liver-destroying virus, and reduce the stigma associated with the blood-borne illness, London Drugs is hosting hepatitis C screening events at London Drugs locations leading up to World Hepatitis Day on July 28th, 2019. Hepatitis C Educators will be at stores to help increase awareness about the need for screening. These specially trained pharmacists will be offering expert advice and encouraging testing, particularly among higher-risk populations. A complete list of event times and locations can be found here.