Perspectives: Hepatitis C Update 2014
Hepatitis C is a viral disease that primarily affects the liver. In its chronic (or long-lasting) form, the hepatitis C virus (HCV) can cause liver damage, cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), and liver cancer. These complications can lead to the need for transplant, and even death. Although it is estimated that between 3.2 and 5.2 million Americans are living with chronic hepatitis C, most are not aware of their HCV status, and so do not seek treatment until symptoms begin, sometimes decades after they became infected. New HCV therapies hold the promise of more efficient, successful treatment, with fewer side effects than current treatment regimens. But, as John Ward, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recently stated, “The benefits of such improved treatment … cannot be realized if infected persons are not brought into care. Testing is the link….”
This issue explores how the rapid HCV test offers HIV test counselors the opportunity to play a crucial role in linking people who may be living with HCV to further testing and care. It also discusses why HIV testing sites may want to offer rapid HCV testing to their clients.