Where hepatitis C testing takes place
- Hepatitis C testing practices vary across Canada.
- Testing can take place in a variety of settings, including healthcare providers’ offices, hospitals, public health clinics, prisons, health centres, and mobile health vans or other outreach settings.
- There are common barriers that a person can experience that will make it difficult for them to access hepatitis C testing. Addressing these barriers can improve access to testing for at-risk and hard-to-reach groups.
Hepatitis C testing practices vary across Canada. Each province and territory across the country is responsible for determining:
- the availability of testing in different settings
- how the tests are conducted and by whom
- which testing technologies are widely available
- what personal information is collected
- how the blood samples are processed in the laboratory
Most hepatitis C testing in Canada starts in a healthcare provider setting, but it is not uncommon for testing to be initiated in other settings, such as hospitals, public health clinics, prisons, health centres, and mobile health vans or other outreach settings.
Barriers to testing
There are common barriers that a person can experience that will make it difficult for them to access hepatitis C testing.
For a person receiving a test (client), barriers to testing may include a fear that the testing will not be confidential or that testing positive will lead to social repercussions such as stigma and discrimination. They may also have a lack of knowledge about hepatitis C and any risks of exposure.
Service providers may also pose barriers to testing, such as not having knowledge about hepatitis C testing (for example, who should get tested, when to offer a test). Other barriers for service providers can include feeling uncomfortable talking to clients about past or current risk behaviours or having competing priorities (for example, not enough time).
Barriers to hepatitis C testing also include system-level barriers that are caused by the structure of the healthcare system or its services. These barriers may increase the chance of someone being lost to follow-up and not receiving their test result. For example, people may need to attend multiple appointments for a diagnosis, or testing services may have long wait times, limited operating hours or limited language options.
Addressing these barriers can improve access to testing for at-risk and hard-to-reach groups.
Resources for service providers
- Hepatitis C Basics – eduCATIE online course
- Hepatitis C Testing – educCATIE online course
Resources for clients
- 6 things to know about Hep C – CATIE brochure
- Hep C can be cured – CATIE brochure
- You can have hepatitis C and not know it – CATIE postcard