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Walgreens to provide free hepatitis C tests

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Drug chain partners with Chronic Liver Disease Foundation

CLARK, N.J. — Beginning later this summer, the Chronic Liver Disease Foundation and Walgreens will provide free hepatitis C testing at more than 60 of the drug chain’s pharmacies in 12 cities across the country.

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The OraQuick HCV Rapid Antibody Test delivers a diagnosis in 20 minutes via venipuncture or fingerstick blood.

The foundation said Tuesday that the testing program, which will use the OraQuick HCV Rapid Antibody Test, is set to launch in August and run through January. Trained health care professionals will administer the tests, which will be available on specific days and times each week, and provide patient education on site at each pharmacy location. 

People who test positive for hepatitis C (HCV) will be linked directly to one of the Chronic Liver Disease Foundation‘s 75 Hepatology Centers of Expertise nationwide.

“The rapid hepatitis testing program demonstrates our commitment to helping patients access important information that can help to improve their health,” Glen Pietrandoni, senior director of virology at Walgreens, said in a statement. “We are proud to collaborate with the Chronic Liver Disease Foundation on this initiative. Through this testing program, we can help people become educated on the risk factors, identify people infected with HCV and help them get linked to appropriate care.”

According to the foundation, OraQuick HCV is the first and only FDA-approved and CLIA-waived point-of-care test for detection of HCV infection in at-risk individuals. The simple platform enables health care providers to deliver an accurate diagnosis in 20 minutes, using venipuncture or fingerstick blood.  The test is made by OraSure Technologies in Bethlehem, Pa.

Each year, about 17,000 Americans become infected with hepatitis C. Up to 75% of people with chronic hepatitis C infection were born between 1945 and 1965, and up to three out of four people infected with the disease are unaware of their infection, the foundation said.

“Today, approximately 5.2 million Americans have hepatitis C, and the vast majority does not know it,” stated Dr. Willis Maddrey, president of the Chronic Liver Disease Foundation. “However, new therapies are now available that can effectively treat and cure hepatitis C.”


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