Hepatitis C screening and awareness events are being held in Red Deer leading up to World Hepatitis Day on July 28.
Hepatitis C educators will be at London Drugs offering advice and encouraging screening, particularly among people at higher risk.
Recent guidelines recommend that all Canadians born between 1945 and 1975 get screened because of inferior infection prevention, control practices and blood products that went unscreened prior to 1992.
“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 prevents many from getting tested,” said Doug Higham, London Drugs pharmacy manager in Red Deer.
“Offering accessible hepatitis C screening and education right at the pharmacy helps increase awareness of the disease, and expands access to treatment.”
Anyone can undertake a simple finger prick test to check if they have been exposed to the hepatitis C virus. The test is more than 99 per cent accurate and provides results in 20 minutes.
In the case of a positive result, pharmacists send patients for further lab testing. The patient will then be connected to a physician – either their family doctor or a hepatologist – for diagnosis.
“Testing positive for hepatitis C is not a death sentence anymore. The cure rate is over 95 per cent. Treatment involves taking antiviral medications daily for eight to 12 weeks,” Higham said.
The rapid antibody test is always available by appointment at Red Deer’s London Drugs. Patients should call the pharmacy to book an appointment. The test costs $24.