Local Organizations Excited to Offer New Rapid Finger Prick Test
Area organizations are working together in a new initiative to address the growing incidence and impact of viral hepatitis. The initiative's first event will be a Hepatitis C Free Testing Day on Wednesday, May 16.
Free Hepatitis C testing will be provided using the new rapid test via finger stick. Task force members are excited to be able to offer this method of testing which will provide results in twenty minutes and reduce barriers that previous test methods presented. Testing will be offered by the AIDS Council of NENY at their offices at 927 Broadway in Albany from 9:30am to 4:00pm, and from their mobile van from 10-12 noon at the corner of Ferry and South Pearl Streets and from 2:30 – 4:30 at Albany and Craig Streets in Schenectady.
Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood will provide free rapid testing from 8:30am to 8:00pm at their health center at 855 Central in Albany, from 10am to 6:30pm at 200 Broadway in Troy and from 9am to 5pm at 190 Fairview Avenue in Hudson. Both agencies will continue to offer the rapid Hep-C test at their health centers after the initial free testing day, but at UHPP, a clinic visit fee may be charged.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there are 4 million Americans living with viral Hepatitis. Viral Hepatitis is referred to as the "silent epidemic," because the symptoms can often go unnoticed. Chronic infection of Hepatitis is preventable, but if left untreated it can lead to liver cancer or liver cirrhosis. While there are three strains of viral Hepatitis-A, B and C-Hepatitis C is the strain that is of highest concern. Currently, according to the CDC, almost 85% of those with Hepatitis C will develop chronic infection. It is estimated that 15,000 Americans die each year from liver cancer and liver cirrhosis caused by viral Hepatitis.
Testing for viral hepatitis is simple and painless, 1 blood test is used to test for Hepatitis A, B and C. Those at highest risk of viral Hepatitis include travelers, users of illegal drugs, persons who participate in high risk sexual activity, health care workers with occupational exposure, infants born from an infected mother, hemodialysis patients and HIV-infected persons.
May has been declared National Hepatitis Awareness Month by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and a National Hepatitis Free Testing Day was declared for May 19. The new Initiative is supported by The New York State Department of Health and the Albany County Department of Health. The AIDS Council and UHPP together determined it was important to try and take advantage of national publicity and resources around these national dates if at all possible. In the end, the AIDS Council and UHPP were both able to acquire the new testing supplies quickly and determined that May 16 would be a date close to the National Testing Day when they could serve the maximum amount of testing clients.
For more information on National Hepatitis Awareness Month or to find other locations offering Viral Hepatitis Testing, go to: http://www.cdcnpin.org/HTD/HTD.aspx