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Victoria Cool Aid Society to provide free testing on World Hepatitis Day

Free drop-in hepatitis C testing, education available at Centennial Square Thursday
Victoria Cool Aid Society’s mobile health clinic will be open from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. July 28 in Centennial Square. (Black Press Media file photo)

The Victoria Cool Aid Society’s Community Health Centre will be setting up a mobile health clinic Thursday (July 28) at Centennial Square for World Hepatitis Day.

Hepatitis C – one of the most common types of viral hepatitis – affects over 71 million people globally and can cause liver damage, cirrhosis and even cancer.

To mark World Hepatitis Day, the clinic will be providing hepatitis C education and free drop-in testing for anyone who wants it.

“Testing is quick, easy and extremely accurate,” Marion Selfridge, Cool Aid Community Health Centre research manager, said in a press release. “And because one-quarter of people living with the disease don’t even know they have it, testing is also extremely important and our best shot at eliminating this disease for good.”

While most may know the Victoria Cool Aid Society for its work in community housing and shelter, it’s also a local leader in the research and treatment of hepatitis C and HIV. The organization has been gaining recognition for its community health centre and outreach programs.

In 2018, the Cool Aid nursing team started reaching out to people living with hepatitis C. They also started testing people in shelters, pharmacies and in supportive housing sites, including ones set up during COVID-19.

“Through these outreach programs, we have found more than 150 people who did not know they had hep C, or did not know how to access treatment,” Selfridge said. “By providing testing and treatment to folks outside of clinic walls, we have been able to treat many more people, including those who have limited contact with the healthcare system.”

Transmissible through blood, the disease is primarily contracted through the sharing of drug use equipment or getting tattoos and piercings in a non-sterile environment. Other ways of acquiring hepatitis C could include sharing personal hygiene items like shaving razors, toothbrushes or nail clippers.

Anyone can be tested – and screening is universally recommended.

For more information regarding hepatitis C and treatment, contact the Cool Aid Community Health Centre at 250-385-1466.

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Austin Westphal

About the Author: Austin Westphal

Austin Westphal is the newest member to join the Saanich News team.
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