State buys more hepatitis C kits

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A state health agency no longer has a shortage of blood test kits for hepatitis C, a spokeswoman said Tuesday. Department of Health and Human Resources spokeswoman Marsha Dadisman told the Charleston Daily Mail that the state made an emergency purchase of testing kits on Oct. 19 but didn't immediately tell county health departments that rely on the DHHR to test blood samples for hepatitis C and other sexually transmitted diseases. Two days earlier, the DHHR's Office of Laboratory Services informed county health officials it had used up its hepatitis C testing supplies and would halt testing for about two weeks. The office cited problems with a bid process. The state's contract with a California company that supplied the kits expired earlier this year. The Office of Laboratory Services' letter said two bids for a new contract didn't meet the specifications. Emergency purchases of up to $25,000 are allowed without going through a lengthier state bidding process.
With supplies now replenished, "no specimen has gone undone,'' Dadisman said. The Office of Laboratory Service estimates that it needs an average of about 150 hepatitis C test kits a week, or 7,700 a year, if they are all used.    
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