This article was reported by NBC29.
NBC29 reported that the AIDS/HIV Service Group (ASG) in Charlottesville, Va,. has piloted a six-month, community-based hepatitis C rapid testing program that focused on identifying hepatitis C infections among baby boomers in their "mid-to-late 50s, 60s, and 70s." ASG Chief Executive Officer Peter DeMartino stated that most new HIV infections occurred among young people, but hepatitis C rates were 10 times higher than HIV rates among baby boomers tested by ASG. Two percent of the tests performed in the pilot program resulted in a hepatitis C diagnosis.
DeMartino explained that many people with chronic hepatitis C infections were unaware they had the virus because they had no symptoms. The biggest risk factor for hepatitis C was "blood-to-blood" contact, often from sharing needles used for injecting drugs. Although treatment could be difficult, DeMartino noted it was easier to manage co-occurring conditions if people were aware of their hepatitis C infection. ASG also offered counseling and mental health support for people diagnosed with hepatitis C.
ASG hepatitis C testing required a finger-stick blood sample. Interested individuals could call the ASG testing coordinator at (434) 979–7714 or make an appointment online at http://asgva.org/appointment.html.