New Study Calls Hepatitis C 'Most Common Blood-Borne Infection In U.S.'

Two-day Online Hepatitis C Program Offers Chance to Learn Hepatitis C Status

Aug 19, 1999, 01:00 ET from Home Access Health Corporation

    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 .  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
 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
     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
     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 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 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 .
     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