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AIDS P.E.I. offers free hepatitis C testing at pop-up event in Charlottetown

Vanessa Arseneau, chief technologist for microbiology at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, checks blood samples being tested for hepatitis C during an AIDS P.E.I. event Friday in Charlottetown.
Vanessa Arseneau, chief technologist for microbiology at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, checks blood samples being tested for hepatitis C during an AIDS P.E.I. event Friday in Charlottetown.

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I.- A finger prick and a 20-minute wait were all it took to get tested for hepatitis C at an AIDS P.E.I. event Friday in Charlottetown.  

Angele Desroches, program co-ordinator with AIDS P.E.I., said she hoped the event increased testing for people who believed they were at risk of contracting hepatitis C.

It was also about normalizing the act of getting tested, she said.

“A lot of folks are wondering am I at risk, am I not at risk.”

AIDS P.E.I. focuses on all sexually transmitted and blood-borne viruses and Friday was world hepatitis day.

The organization held a pop-up testing event next to the boardwalk on the Charlottetown waterfront where about a dozen people had been tested in the first hour.

As people came and went from a small tent, a line of kitchen timers sat on a table next to testing sticks that determined if blood samples from the finger pricks were positive for hepatitis C.

In P.E.I. hepatitis C cases have to be reported to the Chief Public Health Office because it is a contagious disease.

Health P.E.I. staff were on hand helping with the testing and any positive results would be reported.

Counselling was available onsite for anyone who tested positive and included a referral to the provincial hepatitis C treatment program.

That program started in 2015 and provides a cure for almost everyone who is treated.

Desroches said the pop-up event was a first for AIDS P.E.I. and it went well.

“I think our general message to folks is just know your status,” she said.

 

Ryan.Ross@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/ryanrross

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