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World Hepatitis Day - is it time for your test?

a middle finger getting a blood testDid you know that most people with hepatitis C() can be cured by a simple treatment that is free with a prescription? And the simple finger-prick test can give you your result in a couple of minutes?

Did you also know that many people don’t notice any symptoms until irreparable liver damage has occurred?

This is why taking a hepatitis C test is really important.

“If left untreated, up to a quarter of people with hepatitis C will develop cirrhosis, which can progress to life-threatening liver cancer or liver failure,” says Dr Nick Chamberlain, National Director of Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand National Public Health Service.

“More than 200 New Zealanders continue to die from hepatitis C each year. Many of these deaths could have been prevented by earlier diagnosis and treatment because hepatitis C is now ‘easy test, easy cure’, he says. “I strongly urge anyone at risk of hepatitis C to get tested even if you don’t have any symptoms.”

You are at risk of hepatitis C if you:

  • have ever injected drugs or shared equipment
  • have ever received a tattoo or body piercing using unsterile equipment
  • had a blood product transfusion before 1992
  • have ever lived in a high-risk country or received medical treatment there
  • have ever been in prison
  • were born to a mother with hepatitis C.

There are lots of places you can get a hepatitis C finger-prick test including these pharmacies(), Kaupapa Māori health providers and needle exchanges. Or talk to your family doctor or pharmacist if you are concerned.

Your test results are 100 percent confidential – no questions asked.

If you test positive, there’s an easy cure called Maviret that is taken orally for about 8-12 weeks. It’s free with a prescription and has a success rate of up to 98 percent.

Check out Stick it to Hep C() for more information.

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