Testing for Hepatitis C
At Einstein Medical Center, we routinely test patients in the emergency department for hepatitis C (hep C).
If a patient tests positive, our hepatitis C linkage coordinator will contact the person to inform them of the diagnosis, and to provide counseling, education, and support. We then link the patient with Einstein's hepatology department for an evaluation.
If patient tests positive for both hepatitis C and HIV, then the IDC will inform the person of the hep c diagnosis and continue the treatment and counseling for both diseases.
In most cases, hepatitis C is fully treatable and can be cured!
About the Hepatitis C Test
The hep C test is a simple, one-time blood test, but it is not part of routine blood work. The testing is generally covered by most private health insurance, Medicaid, and Medicare plans. If you don’t know if you have been tested for hep C, ask your primary care provider for a test.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people are at increased risk for hepatitis C (and should be tested) if they:
- Ever shared injection drug equipment or tools, even if it was just one time
- Born between 1945 and 1965 (Baby Boomers)
- Received a tattoo or body piercing in a non-licensed setting like at a house party or in jail
- Have ever been on kidney dialysis
- Received a blood transfusion or any blood products before 1992, or clotting factors before 1987
- Were ever a healthcare worker who might have had contact with hep C infected blood
- Have had multiple sexual partners or have had unprotected sex with a hep C infected partner
What is Hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C (or hep C) is a virus that infects the liver. It is the most common infection in the U.S. that is spread by blood. An estimated 3.5 million Americans and 45,000 Philadelphians (approximately 2.5% of Philadelphia’s population) are living with hep C.
The virus is spread when the blood of an infected person enters the bloodstream of someone who is not infected. People with hep C do not always have symptoms, so getting tested is important to preventing liver disease.
HCV (Hep C) Classifications: Chronic vs Acute
- Acute: Virus lives in the system for less than 6 months
- Chronic: Virus lives in the system for longer than 6 months
While most people with chronic hep C never show symptoms, the disease can have long-term effects. Without treatment, hepatitis C can cause liver damage including cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), liver failure, and liver cancer. If you have a chronic infection, you will probably not notice any obvious symptoms until your immune system is very weak or if your liver is starting to fail.