Tak­ing the test

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

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - THE ISLAND - BY RYAN ROSS Ryan.Ross@the­guardian.pe.ca Twit­ter.com/ryan­r­ross

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 co­or­di­na­tor 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 blood­borne 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/THE GUARDIAN

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.

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