Simple and free home test can reveal potentially deadly hepatitis C and cure it

Professor Aiden McCormick, clinical lead for the HSE’s National Hepatitis C Treatment Programme. Photo: HSE/X.

THOUSANDS who may be living with a disease which has no symptoms but can develop into a potentially fatal ailment can now get a free test to see if they have it.

More than 5,500 free hepatitis C home tests were ordered since the HSE launched its home-test service a year ago.

The test involves a finger prick test with a tiny blood sample dropped into a test tube, which is posted in a pre-paid envelope to a lab for analysis. Those who require follow up treatment are contacted and referred to a participating clinic or hospital.

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus, which infects the liver and if left untreated can cause potentially life-threatening damage, leading to cirrhosis, possible liver failure, and cancer – as well as a risk of spreading the disease to others.

Prof Aiden McCormick, clinical lead for the HSE’s National Hepatitis C Treatment Programme said that he was “delighted with the take up of the HSE hepatitis C home testing service. It provides a discreet and confidential service for users, leading to quick diagnosis and intervention for those that have a positive test result. It’s providing increased opportunities for diagnosis and treatment.”

Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter

Hepatitis C often has no symptoms and the only way to know if someone has hepatitis C is to get tested. People can become infected through blood-to-blood contact with someone who has the virus. Risk factors include sharing needles, unprotected sex with an infected person, and blood and organ donations done before 1992.

Those diagnosed with hepatitis C are fast tracked to treatment. Treatment is provided free from the HSE, with over 95 per cent cured in as little 12 weeks.

The National Hepatitis C Treatment Programme has already treated over 7,000 people, 95 per cent of whom are now cured and is on track to reach the World Health Organisation elimination targets for 2030.

The confidential test is free to order from