Cranbrook residents will have an opportunity to receive a free test for hepatitis C on Wednesday.
The technique used will provide fast results to determine if someone is infected.
“With rapid testing, we’ll have a result for antibodies in around 20 minutes,” said Daryl Luster President of the Board of the Pacific Hepatitis C Network. If the person tests positive for antibodies, they will then have blood drawn by a nurse. That blood will then be tested by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control to confirm if people have chronic hepatitis C. The antibody results are only to determine if a person has been exposed.”
Luster said the main goal of the project is to bring better care access and testing to rural areas and small towns within the province.
Hepatitis C is a bloodborne illness that is typically transmitted through blook to blood contact, such as contaminated medical equipment.
“Most often, new transmission is through drug use where harm reduction is not practiced heartily,” said Luster. “Unfortunately there isn’t ready access for people who inject drugs to clean and safe equipment. There are populations that have a higher prevalence of hepatitis C like Baby Boomers, indigenous populations, and newcomers to Canada.”
Luster added that reaching populations that typically don’t have full access to hepatitis C treatment is a focus of the initiative.
“There will be peer navigators and peer support workers on hand to help people understand more about hepatitis C, left untreated, it can cause serious health problems and can lead to death over time,” explained Luster. “There are a lot of British Columbians that are walking around who still don’t know whether or not they’re living with hepatitis C.”
Luster added that the disease is curable and treatment can be accessed to all without restrictions.
Testing will be available Wednesday at Cranbrook Family Connections from 3 to 5 p.m. with food provided.