“Cincinnati has a large population of runaways and injection drug users, so we travel to various locations, where we can best reach these populations and provide services,” said Adam Reilly, PPSWO’s HIV Prevention Coordinator. “We also do a lot of street outreach and education about the risk factors for hepatitis C, to help educate these audiences on the need to get tested.”
PPSWO offers rapid HCV testing alongside rapid HIV testing, both on the OraQuick® rapid test platform. It began implementing rapid HCV testing in March 2012, in response to a large need they saw in the Cincinnati area for testing and services.
“Rapid HCV testing has been a wonderful addition to our program, particularly as we target transient populations,” said Reilly. “Previously, we had conducted HCV testing with a test that was sent to a lab, and experienced long waits for results. Using that test, only 50 percent of people tested returned to receive their results. Now with rapid testing, 100 percent of people tested get their results.”
The response to the rapid HCV testing program has been overwhelmingly positive.
“Our patients really like that there is no blood draw for the rapid HCV test — that it is just a finger prick. It is often difficult to get many injection drug users to do a blood draw, as it can be a trigger for injection drug use if you are an addict.”
In the seven months since the program began, PPSWO has tested more than 199 people for HCV. Of these, 64 percent have tested positive for HCV and have been referred to care and other community resources.
Moving forward, PPSWO hopes to expand its rapid HIV and HCV testing programs to provide additional testing and health screenings in additional locations to serve those in need in the Cincinnati area.
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