With the release of the CDC recommendations for all baby boomers to screen for hepatitis C (HCV), much media attention has recently been paid to this growing public health issue affecting nearly 4 million Americans. It’s estimated that as many as 1 in 30 people born between 1945 and 1965 are infected with HCV, and most don’t know they have it. To that end, on August 17, 2012, the CDC released recommendations for everyone born between 1945 and 1965 to get an HCV antibody test.
Finding a place to get an HCV test can be challenging. Individuals may also want to test privately to allow for time to adjust to and plan for the next steps before their next doctor’s appointment. A new service called HEALTH-C available through the national HELP-4-HEP hepatitis C helpline assists individuals access a confidential service that offers low-cost HCV testing.
The service, called “Helping Expand Access to Lab Testing for Hepatitis C”, was developed and is implemented by HealthPro, the managing partner for The Support Partnership (TSP), a collaboration of five hepatitis C-serving organizations that oversee HELP-4-HEP. Project Inform is fiscal agent and phone support partner for TSP.
HEALTH-C offers people in 45 states affordable and discreet hepatitis C testing and care referrals along with client-centered pre- and post-test health education and counseling. HEALTH-C will provide individuals who need low-cost blood work with access to a range of routine testing for hepatitis C, including antibody tests, viral load tests and other diagnostics.
Project Inform encourages all those at risk for HCV infection — baby boomers, injection drug users, and HIV-infected persons — to get tested for HCV to learn of their status and take the necessary steps to make healthy choices. To access HEALTH-C, individuals should call HELP-4-HEP at 877-435-7443. Counselors can answer questions about testing and transfer those who wish to engage with the confidential service. HELP-4-HEP can also assist individuals who want to discuss their test results.