Health Dept. offers Hep. C testing

Published 10:11 am Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Ironton Health Department is now offering Hepatitis C testing.

“It will be on Thursdays from 8 a.m.-3 p.m.,” said Laura Brown, the Ironton Health Department’s health commissioner.

They are targeting baby boomers, the group of Americans born between 1945 and 1965.

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“In those days, a lot of medical people didn’t wear gloves and they didn’t use blood precautions. Paramedics just took care of people,” she said. “And that was the era of the Flower Power children, the hippies. There was a lot of unprotected intercourse and drug use. We are targeting that age because Hepatitis C will lie dormant for years and just now start causing medical issues. So they need to get their blood checked.”

Hepatitis literally means, “Inflamed liver.” Many people aren’t aware that they have it. Some of the symptoms include fatigue, stomachaches, joint and muscle pain, brain-fog and a pain on their right side, just below the rib cage where the liver is located. Brown said Hepatitis C is very common and is actually on the rise. It is spread from blood to blood contact.

“Especially with people who share needs or drug pipes,” she said. “It is going up higher than it is ever been.”

Brown said registered nurses will draw blood and then it will be sent off to a lab for testing. They also get some educational materials on Hepatitis C.

The department does the testing on Thursdays because a courier picks up the blood for the lab on Thursday evening.

“We usually get the results back within a week,” Brown said. If the results are positive, the patient is referred to a doctor for a course of treatment.

“We have three or four referrals, they can pick the physician they want,” she said. “We will send all lab tests to the doctor.”

If the patient results come back negative, the department will do some education with them to make them aware of the dangers of Hepatitis C.

“The main thing is just finding out who has it,” Brown said. “If we catch it soon enough, it is curable.”

If untreated, Hepatitis C can lead to scarring of the liver, liver cancer or death.

There is a cost to the testing. It’s $22 for the department and the lab costs. The department takes an insurance card and bills them.

“We don’t have to have a doctor’s order to do the test. If someone wants to know if they have it, they can come here,” Brown said. “So, it cuts out the cost of going to a doctor.”

The Ironton Health Department is located at 2121 S. Eight St, Ironton. The phone number is 740-532-2172.