Hepatitis C: Rapid antibody test
On January 17, 2017, Health Canada approved the use and sale of a point-of-care antibody test for screening people for exposure to hepatitis C virus (HCV). The test is called the OraQuick HCV rapid antibody test and is manufactured by Orasure Technologies in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. It will be distributed in Canada by KNS Canada.
About the test
The OraQuick test has been approved in other high-income countries. It works by checking a small drop of blood (taken from a finger prick) for antibodies to HCV. The test is more than 98% accurate at detecting those antibodies. It provides results in 20 minutes.
A positive test indicates that a person has been exposed to HCV at some point in the past. However, the test does not reveal if the person is currently infected. In cases of a positive result, healthcare providers and clinics can refer their patients to a local laboratory that will take a sample of their blood and have it checked for HCV’s genetic material. The presence of HCV’s genetic material indicates that HCV is being produced in the liver, and a discussion about treatment options should follow.
Test kits should be ready for sale by late February or early March. Healthcare professionals and clinics can contact KNS Canada to place orders.
The cost per test is $29.95. It comes in boxes of 25 kits per box, and the cost per box is $748.75. Clinics can negotiate discounts for bulk orders.
The OraQuick test is meant to be administered by a healthcare professional and is not for home use. In general, point-of-care tests are used in clinics, hospitals, mobile testing units and other locations and in situations where a rapid result is needed.
In Canada, researchers estimate that 44% of people who are infected with HCV are unaware of their infection status.
Health Canada. Oraquick rapid HCV antibody test. Medical device license. 17 January 2017.