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Hepatitis C Testing Offered in NY, NJ and Nationwide

Hepatitis C is increasing dramatically in the United States, particularly among younger adults, and 4 in 10 people don’t even know they have it. Hepatitis C is usually spread through blood, often from injection drug use. Less commonly, hepatitis C is spread through sex or from an infected mother to her infant during pregnancy or childbirth. An acute infection develops when someone is first infected. Some people clear the virus, but most people with acute hepatitis C will develop a long-term (chronic) infection. Left untreated, chronic hepatitis C can cause severe liver damage, liver cancer, and even death. But hepatitis C is curable. The first step to being cured is getting a hepatitis C blood test.

What to Expect When Getting Tested

All adults, pregnant women, and people with risk factors should get tested for hepatitis C.Most people who get infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) develop a chronic, or lifelong, infection. Left untreated, chronic hepatitis C can cause serious health problems, including liver damage, cirrhosis, liver cancer, and even death. People can live without symptoms or feeling sick, so testing is the only way to know if you have hepatitis C. Getting tested is important to find out if you are infected so you can get lifesaving treatment that can cure hepatitis C.

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CDC Recommendations for Hepatitis C Screening Among Adults in the United States

  • Universal hepatitis C screening:
    • Hepatitis C screening at least once in a lifetime for all adults aged 18 years and older, except in settings where the prevalence of HCV infection (HCV RNA‑positivity) is less than 0.1%*
    • Hepatitis C screening for all pregnant women during each pregnancy, except in settings where the prevalence of HCV infection (HCV RNA‑positivity) is less than 0.1%*
  • One‑time hepatitis C testing regardless of age or setting prevalence among people with recognized conditions or exposures:
    • People with HIV
    • People who ever injected drugs and shared needles, syringes, or other drug preparation equipment, including those who injected once or a few times many years ago
    • People with selected medical conditions, including:
      • people who ever received maintenance hemodialysis
      • people with persistently abnormal ALT levels
    • Prior recipients of transfusions or organ transplants, including:
      • people who received clotting factor concentrates produced before 1987
      • people who received a transfusion of blood or blood components before July 1992
      • people who received an organ transplant before July 1992
      • people who were notified that they received blood from a donor who later tested positive for HCV infection
    • Children born to mothers with HCV infection
  • Routine periodic testing for people with ongoing risk factors, while risk factors persist:
    • People who currently inject drugs and share needles, syringes, or other drug preparation equipment
    • People with selected medical conditions, including:
      • people who ever received maintenance hemodialysis
  • Any person who requests hepatitis C testing should receive it, regardless of disclosure of risk, because many persons may be reluctant to disclose stigmatizing risks
*Determining prevalence: In the absence of existing data for hepatitis C prevalence, health care providers should initiate universal hepatitis C screening until they establish that the prevalence of HCV RNA positivity in their population is less than 0.1%, at which point universal screening is no longer explicitly recommended but may occur at the provider’s discretion. 

The Way Forward

Health care Providers Can:
  • Test every adult once and pregnant women during every pregnancy.
  • Test everyone with risk factors; test regularly if risk continues.
  • Provide hepatitis C care and cure or refer to a specialist.
Health Departments Can:
  • Implement screening recommendations.
  • Monitor and report the local burden of hepatitis C.
  • Support comprehensive syringe services programs to increase access to hepatitis C testing.
People Who Inject Drugs Can:
  • Seek treatment for substance use disorders (SAMHSA’s National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP).
  • Use new syringes and equipment with every injection.
  • Get tested for hepatitis C regularly.
People With Hepatitis C Can:
  • Get treated. Get cured.
  • Avoid alcohol and adopt other health behaviors that support liver health.
Everyone Can:
  • Get tested at least once and learn how to prevent hepatitis C.

SOURCE: CDC Recommendations for Hepatitis C Screening, MMWR, April 2020.

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At TOPLAB®, our boutique laboratory allows shorter turnaround times and a client experience that is tailored to meet your exact testing needs. The high level of service and use of the latest, cutting-edge technology make TOPLAB® a go-to clinical reference lab for medical professionals throughout New Jersey and across the country. To learn more about our surgical pathology testing services, contact us today.

 

 

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