HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill., Aug. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 2.7 million Americans are infected with the hepatitis C virus, according to today's New England Journal of Medicine, making it the "most common blood-borne infection in the U.S." Men and women who think they have been exposed to the hepatitis C virus can learn more about the disease online on Sunday and Monday and get the only FDA-approved at-home hepatitis C test free to determine if they've been infected with the virus. The two-day program called "National Hepatitis C Testing Days: Get Online, Get Tested" on August 22nd and 23rd is sponsored by Home Access Health Corporation through its website at http://www.homeaccess.com . Home Access Health received FDA approval in April to market the first and only at-home hepatitis C test service. "The CDC study shows that hepatitis C can affect virtually anyone. That is why we developed an on-line health risk assessment for people to determine if they may have been exposed to hepatitis C," said Tracey T. Powell, chairman and CEO of Home Access Health. Exposure factors for hepatitis C include receiving a blood transfusion or blood products prior to 1992, those who have had occupational exposure to blood such as healthcare workers and military personnel, the use of non-prescribed drugs or steroids by needle, even once, as long as 30-40 years ago, and unprotected sex with someone who is known to be hepatitis C positive. U.S. Congressman Anthony D. Weiner (D/I Brooklyn & Queens) is encouraging people to test for "the silent killer," as it is frequently called. "Hepatitis C has been taking on near-epidemic proportions in our cities," Congressman Weiner said. "This online testing and discussion forum is a vital step in raising awareness about this lethal disease. I applaud homeaccess.com for taking a strong lead in educating people about hepatitis C, and I encourage everyone to go online and learn more about the associated risk factors." How To Get Free Test Online visitors to the Home Access Health website during the two-day program fill out a seven-question Risk Profile that asks about experiences associated with hepatitis C exposures. The Profile will be evaluated instantaneously. If at risk for hepatitis C, the visitor will receive instructions on how to receive a Home Access Hepatitis C Check(FM) Test Service. To receive the test, the visitor will agree to pay a shipping and handling fee of $6.00. The test service retails for $70. All information is confidential. The Home Access hepatitis C test service allows a person to collect a sample of blood at home, mail it to a certified laboratory and learn the result via telephone within 10 days. After learning the test result, clients have an opportunity to talk live with a counselor 24 hours a day, seven days a week about the result. The test determines if the hepatitis C virus has ever been present in the person's body, not if the virus is active. "We're offering this service because we've learned that people taking control of their health status are looking to the Internet for legitimate healthcare advice and direction. We want people to know that Home Access Health's at-home telemedicine method is a very effective, convenient and confidential approach," said Powell. A recently concluded free test program in the Chicago area resulted in 6,632 people taking the Home Access Health test with approximately 6 percent testing positive for the virus. For those who want to learn more about hepatitis C, Home Access Health also is sponsoring a chat on washingtonpost.com at noon EDT Monday, August 23rd. The chat will be hosted by Gail Staudt, a registered nurse who has been treated successfully for hepatitis C, Julie Knafelz, a counseling supervisor at Home Access and a licensed clinical professional counselor, and Allan P. Frank, M.D., medical director at Home Access Health. The chat will last for one hour. A transcript will be posted at http://www.homeaccess.com for review by people who can't sign on to the chat. "Hepatitis C has received a lot of attention recently due to government programs, new treatments and research," said Ms. Staudt. "The chat will give people concerned about their status an opportunity to ask questions about the disease, how to find out if they have it, how to minimize their risk for getting hepatitis C and what to do if they learn they are positive." Home Access Health Corporation is the only online provider of HIV and HCV home test kits that also offers an around-the-clock counseling service featuring professional health counselors. The tests are available through http://www.homeaccess.com . Home Access Health also offers medically directed and call center-based services to government, pharmaceutical companies, clinical laboratories, blood product and disease management companies and provides counseling, medical testing, results and referrals for treatment to individuals these institutions serves. Home Access Health provides cost effective programs to distribute, collect and report disease information, conduct health risk assessments and disease prevalence studies.
SOURCE Home Access Health Corporation