Hepatitis C - The Risk And Free Home Confidential Testing

Hepatitis C - The Risk And Free Home Confidential Testing



Today on the blog we take a look at certain known risk factors associated with contracting hepatitis C, a free home test and of course the CDC's recommendation that all Americans born from 1945 through 1965 get a one-time test for hepatitis C.

Getting Tested Will Save Lives

As once a hepatitis C patient myself (I successfully treated the virus with standard HCV therapy in 2000), I applaud the CDC's new recommendation that all U.S. baby boomers should get tested one time for hepatitis C. The number of lives that could be saved by one simple blood test is staggering, officials estimate the new screening strategy will identify over 800,000 people infected with the virus, prevent 100,000 cases of cirrhosis - over 50,000 cases of liver cancer, and save more than 120,000 lives. Today, hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver transplants in the United States, killing more than 15,000 Americans each year.

The Hepatitis C Epidemic
 
The global hepatitis C epidemic is estimated to include 130–170 million people worldwide, in the United States an estimated 2.7–3.9 million people are living with the virus, more than 2 million of these people are baby boomers, with 75 percent unaware they are infected - because they haven't been tested.

The Disease

Medscape reported: Out of 100 people that contract the infection, 75–85 people will develop chronic infection, 60–70 people will develop chronic liver disease, five to 20 people will develop cirrhosis over the course of their chronic infection and one to five people will die of complications including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

Transmission

According to the CDC:
 
In a recent analysis of data from a national health survey, 55% of persons ever infected with HCV reported an exposure risk of either (IV drug use or blood transfusion before July 1992), and the remaining 45% reported no known exposure risk (CDC, unpublished data, 2012).
 
Other potential exposures include ever having received chronic hemodialysis, being born to an HCV-infected mother, intranasal drug use, acquiring a tattoo in an unregulated establishment, being incarcerated, being stuck by a needle (e.g., in health care, emergency medical, home, or public safety settings) and receiving invasive health-care procedures (i.e., those involving a percutaneous exposure, such as surgery before implementation of universal precautions).
 
Transmission In A Health Care Setting
 
Potential exposure to viral hepatitis and human immunodeficiency virus 2001 - 2011

Since 2001, at least 130,000 patients had potential exposure to viral hepatitis and HIV due to unsafe injection practices in U.S. healthcare settings. The study, published in the May 2012 edition of Medical Care, details 35 separate patient notification events involving at least 17 states between 2001-2011. These events were caused by a variety of unsafe injection practices including: reuse of syringes, mishandling of medication vials and containers, reuse of single-dose vials, reuse of insulin pens, and narcotics theft. The latter was seen in the recent outbreak at Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire, which resulted in 32 people infected with HCV.

Reported outbreaks of viral hepatitis 2001 - 2011

In a more recent report released on August 3, 2012 by the U.S. Government Accountability Office-(GAO), investigating unsafe injection practices in the U.S. using data from the CDC between 2001 and 2011- reported 18 outbreaks of viral hepatitis during the 10 year period.

The data covered more than 500 million procedures performed in ambulatory care settings.

Specifically, of the 18 outbreaks, 5 occurred in pain management clinics, 5 occurred in endoscopy clinics, 3 occurred in alternative medicine clinics, and 2 occurred in hematology-oncology clinics.

The 38 page report-"Patient Safety: HHS Has Taken Steps to Address Unsafe Injection Practices, but More Action Is Needed" can be downloaded here or viewed on the blog here.

Get Tested 

Some people may forgo testing because the disease has a stigma associated with IV drug use, fortunately Northeastern Pennsylvania Transplant Support Group Inc. (NEPATSG) offers a free Home Access Hepatitis C Test Kit. The free $90.00 test is confidential and is sent to your home with easy instructions for testing. To cover postage and handling a nominal fee of 10.00 is requested.

Test yourself for Hepatitis C!

It's FREE and completely confidential.

The Home Access Hepatitis C Test Kit allows you to test yourself for the virus, right from your own home.

 Email us at office@nepatsg.org if you have any questions about the Hepatitis C check kit.
 
 Order your FREE kit by printing the voucher at this link and mailing the completed voucher with $10.00 donation which covers postage and handling to the address on the voucher. This test kit has a retail price of $90.00 in stores.
 
 When your kit arrives, follow the instructions provided to test yourself.
 
 Mail your sample in the postage paid mailer included in the kit.
 
 You will be given an ID number and a phone number that you can use to anonymously find out the results of your test.
 
Click here to order a free confidential Home Access Hepatitis C Test Kit.

Hepatitis C Is A Serious Disease

This disease can lead to serious health problems including liver damage, cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure. The 75 percent of people who are walking around unaware they are infected need clinical evaluation and counseling including prevention strategies; using alcohol, supplements, over-the-counter medications or prescription drugs can cause additional liver damage. By knowing your status current prescription medications can be reviewed by a health care professional, or if needed, future decisions about treatment can be explored.

Baby Boomers At Risk
 
Born Between 1945 and 1965
Recreational intravenous drug use
Received a blood transfusion, blood product or organ before 1992
Received a blood clotting product before 1987

Why are baby boomers being urged to be tested for hepatitis C?

Understanding the test and steps to avoid liver damage

In September the CDC's new guidelines were discussed in an interview with Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber, M.D., hosted by Barbara Lewis at Sound Medicine. The program took a closer look at the tests, and the importance of taking appropriate steps to avoid liver damage.




If any of the risk factors mentioned in this article pertain to you, I urge you to please consider the CDC's recommendation and get tested once for hepatitis C.

Need To Talk To Someone ?

Help is available, recently "Project Inform" announced the launch of a new national helpline, 877-HELP-4-HEP (877-435-7443), run by and for people affected by hepatitis C.

The helpline operates Monday through Friday 9am to 7pm EST.
To learn more, visit www.help4hep.org

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