Haymarket Center has one of the largest health education departments in the Midwestern United States, through which it provides health education services for HIV, hepatitis C and other acute and chronic health issues often associated with substance abuse. One of the services offered through the health education department at Haymarket Center is rapid testing for hepatitis C with the OraQuick® HCV Rapid Antibody Test.
Haymarket Center established its rapid hepatitis C testing program in response to a large need they saw in the Chicago area for hepatitis C testing and services.
"Unlike HIV, there are not many resources available for hepatitis C at the community level, said Jill Wolf, LCSW, Assistant Clinical Director, Haymarket Center. "But with substance abuse, we see many more people in need of hepatitis C services. In our HIV+ population, roughly 33% are HIV/HCV coinfected. Further, our approximate positivity rate in our HCV testing with substance abusers is 8%! That is why we felt it critical to make rapid hepatitis C testing a part of our health education offerings."
Haymarket launched its rapid hepatitis C testing program in September 2011, offering rapid hepatitis C testing alongside rapid HIV testing, both on the OraQuick® rapid test platform, to all Haymarket Center clients. The Center also offers rapid testing through a mobile van that visits various high-risk communities throughout the Chicago area.
Haymarket Center Rapid testing is a particularly powerful intervention for substance users because for a homeless or transient population who often doesn't want to wait long enough for results, the immediacy of the intervention often satisfies the need for immediate gratification in substance abusers," said Wolf. "Also, because this population is very transient, the ability to provide results at the point of care - and take the appropriate next steps - enables us to identify more people with hepatitis C and link them to confirmatory testing and care."
The Center also offers confirmatory testing through an RN, so that those who test positive can immediately be linked to appropriate resources.
Since the program began, the Center has tested more than 1,300 clients - making it one of the largest rapid hepatitis C testing programs in the country. Of these, more than 60 have been provided with confirmatory testing at Haymarket Center's James West clinic and linked to care.
The Center works with the Chicago Hepatitis Coalition, the City of Chicago and the Erie Family Health Center and other community based organizations to provide linkage to treatment and additional resources, such as treatment, for those who test positive.
Moving forward, Haymarket Center hopes to expand its hepatitis C program to provide additional testing and services for those in need.
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