The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) has funded a study to evaluate a model to provide increased access to Hepatitis C testing and follow up care.
The efforts to increase public awareness highlight the month of May, which is Hepatitis Awareness Month and includes Hepatitis Testing Day, which was held on May 19.
“This study is ideal for the NACDS Foundation, as it focuses on an identified public health need to improve access to testing and care, and on a topic that requires partnership and collaboration,” NACDS President Kathleen Jaeger said. “This evidence-based research on Hepatitis C and HIV builds on the NACDS Foundation’s prior and ongoing study of point-of-care testing for flu and strep throat.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other public health agencies are working with the NACDS on the study. Increasing access to hepatitis testing may encourage the most at-risk population, those born between 1945 and 1965, to discuss screening with their health care providers. Individuals in this age range are five times more likely to become infected with Hepatitis C than other age groups.
Hepatitis can damage the liver and cause liver cancer. The main form of liver cancer caused by hepatitis is hepatocullular carcinoma (HCC), or primary liver cancer. HCC affects only 2 percent of cancer patients in the U.S., but is the fifth most common cancer in the world. Early diagnosis and treatment of hepatitis can help prevent cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver, and the development of liver cancer.