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finger prick test

Hepatitis C home testing kits are now available for free from HSE

People will be able to order the testing kit online at the HSE’s new Hepatitis C online service.

THE HSE IS launching a new free Hepatitis C home testing kit.

People will be able to order the testing kit online at the HSE’s new Hepatitis C online service. The kit will then be delivered to their home by post. 

Users will complete the finger prick test at home and post the sample to the laboratory in a pre-paid envelope provided. 

Individuals will then receive their results by text or phone.

Those who require follow on treatment will be referred to participating clinics or hospitals.

Treatment for Hepatitis C is free. The HSE said tablets are effective and well-tolerated, with over 95% of people cured in as little as 8 to 12 weeks.

The new home testing service could help people unknowingly living with Hepatitis C to get a life-saving diagnosis and treatment sooner, the HSE said. 

A person should get tested for Hepatitis C if they:

  • have ever shared needles or equipment to inject any type of drug, even if you’ve only injected once
  • have ever shared equipment to snort or sniff drugs
  • have ever been in prison
  • have a tattoo, especially if you got it a long time ago or in a non-professional setting or in a prison
  • are from a country where Hepatitis C is common
  • have ever received blood or blood products in another country where blood donations are not tested
  • have ever had medical or dental treatment in a country where Hepatitis C is common and infection control is poor
  • were born to a mother who had Hepatitis C at the time of your birth
  • are a man who takes part in chemsex or has condomless, rough or extreme sex with men
  • are a man who has sex with men and you have HIV
  • have lived with someone with Hepatitis C and there is a chance they may have passed it on
  • received an organ transplant in Ireland before 1992
  • had sexual contact with an injecting drug user

The National Hepatitis C Treatment Programme estimates that up to 3,000 people in Ireland may currently have the blood-borne virus, which infects the liver. 

If left untreated, the virus can cause serious and potentially life-threatening damage, leading to cirrhosis, possible liver failure and cancer – as well as a risk of spreading the disease to others. 

“One of our biggest challenges in getting people tested for Hepatitis C is that people can live without symptoms or feeling sick. This means a lot of people living with the virus don’t realise they have it,” Professor Aiden McCormick, HSE clinic lead for the Hepatitis C Programme, said.

“We’re calling on people to order this quick finger-prick test toind out whether you’ve been exposed to Hepatitis C – it could save your life,” McCormick said. 

“If you have ever shared a needle including piercings, tattoos or injected drugs using needles, you could be at risk. Hepatitis C can be a fatal disease but it is a curable disease,” he said. 

“Treatment for Hepatitis C takes between eight to 12 weeks and is a course of tablets that have hardly any side effects. These tablets are highly effective at clearing the infection in more than 95% of people.”

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