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Non-urgent Hepatitis C (HCV) Testing has now resumed
Jun 10, 2020 by The BC Centre for Disease Control and the Ministry of Health
In April, non-urgent Hepatitis C (HCV) testing at the BCCDC Public Health Laboratory (PHL) was suspended to redirect resources to support COVID-19 testing. As of June 2020, all HCV testing has resumed.
If you may have been exposed to HCV and need a test, contact your health care provider or use the clinic finder to find services near you.
What if someone has been exposed to the blood of a person living with HCV infection?
People concerned about a possible exposure to the blood of someone with HCV infection, or other bloodborne infections (e.g. hepatitis B, HIV) should contact their primary health care provider or local urgent care centre to discuss testing and other possible follow-up, within 72 hours of exposure (if medications to prevent HIV are recommended, they should be started within 72 hours, ideally within 2 hours). During the COVID-19 crisis, the BC Provincial Health Officer’s guidance is to avoid in-person medical care for non-urgent concerns, and to focus on home isolation and physical distancing precautions, such as calling ahead to your care provider before visiting them.
Who to contact to discuss concerns:
- Request a telehealth consult with your healthcare provider
- Visit the BC Hepatitis Clinics map to find out who you can call
- Visit Help4HepBC or call 1-888-411-7578 to speak with a peer who has lived HCV experience
If a person thinks they might have HCV, they can prevent passing it to others by not sharing:
- Injection drug use equipment (e.g., needles, syringes, cookers, water, filters, spoons)
- Other drug use equipment (e.g., bubble pipes, pipe stems, straws)
- Personal items that might have tiny amounts of blood on them (e.g., nail clippers, toothbrushes)
HCV is only passed on through blood-to-blood contact, so everyday activities like hugging and kissing are safe. However, hugging and kissing with people outside of your household may put you at risk for COVID-19. It is possible for HCV to be passed on through condomless sex if there is exchange of blood, so always use condoms and water-based lube to reduce the risk of possible transmission.
Can people get treated for hepatitis C during COVID-19?
Yes! If you were waiting to get treated because you heard that testing wasn’t available, please check in with your health care provider. Not only has testing resumed, but the requirement for HCV RNA and genotype testing have been temporarily revised to help speed up the time it takes to start HCV treatment. For more details see BC PharmaCare Newsletter 20-007 (page 3).
More information and resources
General HCV information
HCV and COVID-19
Health care providers
In-depth HCV information
BCCDC Hepatitis C Guidelines
Hepatitis Education Canada (for providers)
BCCDC Online Course - Hepatitis C for Public Health Care Providers (3-4 hours)
HCV and COVID-19
Categories: Program updates