Although the Arizona Department of Health Services does not offer free, state-funded hepatitis screenings, there's a local free alternative—the Liver Institute at the University of Arizona Medical Center currently offers free hepatitis C screenings.
According to a report from the UA Department of Medicine, people with Hep C often have no symptoms. Thomas D. Boyer, director of the institute and head of the UA Department of Medicine, said those infected can live decades without feeling sick "and more importantly, successfully can be treated and cured with medications.”
Each year more than two million people are infected with Hep C, which over time can cause serious health problems, including liver damage, cirrhosis, liver cancer, liver transplantation and even death. Because of the risk of being a hepatitis C carrier, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommends that Baby Boomers, those born between 1945-1962 and five times more likely to have Hep C, be screened for the virus.
The clinic, which also offers treatment and lifetime care, is located at UAMC, 1501 N. Campbell Ave. Info on walk-in screening appointments is available at 621-HEPC (4372). The clinic formally opens July 18; but a hotline information number is now taking calls calls. Clinic hours are Friday mornings from 8 to 11 a.m. and is located on the sixth-floor of the multi-specialty outpatient clinic. Minimal registration is involved.
Carol Peters, ANP, said the new treatment for hepatitis C is oral-based, versus injection, and the treatment time is shorter and more effective, with no side effects. The screening test itself takes about 20 minutes and is 98 percent accurate. Any patients testing positive will need to follow up for confirmatory testing.