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Rapid Hepatitis C Testing Debuts at NBC Health and Fitness Expo

By Candace Y.A. Montague

January 18, 2012

Community Education Group and Kappa Youth Development teamed up to provide free HIV and hepatitis C testing at the 19th annual NBC Health and Fitness Expo this past Saturday at the convention center. The expo is a Washington tradition in January and has plenty of events and activities surrounding wellness. Hepatitis C testing was offered for the first time using the new rapid results test manufactured by Orasure Technologies.

Free HIV testing has been offered on numerous occasions around the city but hepatitis C is a virus that often goes overlooked. According to the National Minority Quality Forum, the projected hep C prevalence for D.C. is 2.19 percent. Hep C is one of the major causes of chronic liver disease and can have a major impact on HIV management. The hep C rapid test was used for 33 screenings at the expo. Terrence Young, manager of testing and field operations at Community Education Group, said not enough attention is being paid to hepatitis C in D.C. "We aren't doing enough to educate people about hep C but there are initiatives in place that are trying to address that gap." New research from the CDC suggestssuggests that hep C testing should include regular screenings of people age 46 and older. "We are targeting people with a history of injection drug use and baby boomers age 46 and older. There are a lot of people in the baby boomer group that had experience with recreational drug use in their teens and young adult years. Screenings years ago were not as stringent as they are today." stated Young.

The rapid hep C test offered at the expo made screenings easier for the provider and the attendees as they were given their results in 20 minutes. Ron Ticho, Senior Vice President of Corporate Communication at OraSure Technologies, was pleased with Saturday's testing. "We found that individuals have been responsive to testing for hepatitis C at the Health and Fitness Expo. They are eager to know their status and the fact that they can get tested and received the results in relatively short order, relieves a tremendous amount of anxiety that goes along with traditional lab-based testing. The fingerstick blood sample is collected and then the test is run in a controlled environment. Any individuals who test positive are immediately linked into care."

Community Education Group was recently awarded funding to provide hep C screenings for 250 individuals in Wards 6,7, and 8. Young said they plan to use the OraQuick tests to provide those screenings. For more information about Community Education Group, click here.

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