Categories: Home News

New 20-minute hepatitis C screening test launches in Metro Vancouver

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.

Ashley Wadhwani

Share
Published by
Ashley Wadhwani

Recent Posts

  • Canada & World
  • News

‘Jeopardy!’ host Trebek says he’s resumed chemotherapy

After a short period of optimism doctors ordered him back on the treatment

3 hours ago
  • Canada & World
  • News

Pro-oil and gas shirt incidents highlight lack of clarity in legislatures’ rules

Visitors to parliament buildings asked to remove clothing with slogan “I love Canadian Oil and Gas.”

3 hours ago
  • Home2
  • News

Defense says burden of proof not met in double murder case against Victoria father

Closing statements begin in trial for man accused of killing daughters Christmas 2017

3 hours ago
  • Home2
  • News

B.C. dog breeder banned again after 46 dogs seized

The SPCA seized the animals from Terry Baker, 66, in February 2018

3 hours ago
  • Canada & World
  • Federal Election

Federal government posts $14B shortfall in 2018-19

It’s the third straight year of a shortfall larger than $10 billion

3 hours ago
  • Canada & World
  • Federal Election

Tax credits or cash? Federal parties spar over what’s best for parental benefits

Liberals promise to expand existing benefit, while Conservatives are promising a tax credit

3 hours ago