Louisiana health department announces free hepatitis C screenings at Walmart stores

Louisiana health department announces free hepatitis C screenings at Walmart stores
The Louisiana Department of Health is hosting free hepatitis C screenings at ten Walmart pharmacy locations across the state. (Source: Walmart)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The Louisiana Department of Health and Walmart are announcing a collaboration and pilot screening program to advance the state’s goal of eliminating hepatitis C in Louisiana by 2024.

The free hepatitis C screenings will be available at the pharmacies of ten Walmart stores for people who are at risk of hepatitis C.

These locations are:

  • Caddo Walmart: 929 S Pine St., St. Vivian
  • Evangeline Walmart: 891 E Lasalle St., Ville Platte
  • Iberia Walmart: 1205 E Admiral Doyle Dr., New Iberia
  • Lafourche Walmart: 4858 Hwy. 1, Raceland
  • West Carroll Walmart: 705 S Constitution Ave., Oak Grove
  • Tangipahoa Walmart: 1200 W Oak St., Amite
  • Ouachita Walmart: 1840 McKeen Pl., Monroe
  • Livingston Walmart: 34025 Hwy. 16, Denham Springs
  • St. Landry Walmart: 2310 S Union St., Opelousas
  • St. Mary Walmart: 1002 Hwy. 70, Morgan City

RELATED: More La. residents able to get live-saving hep C treatment thanks to state’s new payment model

The free screenings will begin on Dec. 11 and will be offered from 2 to 6 p.m. each Wednesday until Feb. 1, 2020. LDH says the screening involves a finger stick and if the test comes back positive, the person will be referred to their primary care physician. If the patient does not have a primary care doctor, a local doctor will be recommended for additional screening and treatment. Patients will also be given information about hep C and its effects on the liver. For more details, click here.

Screening for hepatitis C is the first step to eliminate this disease that kills more people in the U.S. annually than the 60 other reportable infectious diseases combined, according to the Department of Health.

“By partnering with Walmart, we are trying to make it as easy as possible for people to get screened for this virus and then get treated. We also recently announced a partnership with Asegua Therapeutics that makes the medicine to cure hepatitis C widely available to the state without increasing our costs,” said Dr. Rebekah Gee, secretary of LDH.

Earlier this year, the health department announced a partnership with Asegua Therapeutics to make curative medicine more widely available to the estimated 39,000 people in Louisiana’s Medicaid program and prison system infected with hepatitis C.

“With more than 90% of Americans living within 10 miles of a Walmart, we are an important part of the community and the daily lives of our customers. We are proud to collaborate with LDH on this important initiative to help people live better, and healthier, lives,” said Dr. Thomas Van Gilder, chief medical officer for Walmart U.S. Health & Wellness.

HEALTH EFFECTS OF UNTREATED HEPATITIS C

Many people living with hepatitis C do not even know they have it. Hepatitis C damages the liver causing scarring, cirrhosis, or liver cancer. As many as 1 in 20, or 5%, of people with untreated chronic hepatitis C will die from cirrhosis or liver cancer.

HEPATITIS C SCREENING RECOMMENDATIONS

LDH recommends that every Louisianan be screened at least once in their lifetime, and perhaps more if they are at higher risk for the infection. In addition, the CDC offers these guidelines for hepatitis C screening:

  • Were born from 1945 to 1965
  • Received donated blood or organs before 1992
  • Have ever injected drugs, even if it was just once or many years ago
  • Have certain medical conditions, such as chronic liver disease and HIV or AIDS
  • Have abnormal liver tests or liver disease
  • Have been exposed to blood from a person who has hepatitis C
  • Are on hemodialysis
  • Are born to a mother with hepatitis C

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