July 28th marked World Hepatitis Day. World Hepatitis Day is an international event focused on raising awareness about viral hepatitis and works to influence real change in disease prevention and access to testing and treatment.
In Canada, there is an estimated 250,000 people living with chronic hepatitis C in Canada, many of them are unaware of their status. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C, which means we need to remain vigilant about prevention efforts. And while we have made great strives in treatment and are living in an era of new hepatitis C drugs, with many fewer side effects and a cure rate of over 90%, many people are finding it challenging to access information about testing, linkage to care, and treatment and need support to access the full continuum of services available to them.
Our colleagues over at CATIE have pulled together a lot of great resources to mark World Hepatitis Day. Another helpful resource is Hepatitis Education Canada, which has worked to develop culturally and linguistically sensitive hepatitis C education resources for the population, hepatitis patients and health care providers.
Also, it is important to note that Action Hepatitis Canada is calling for a National Hepatitis C Strategy to work towards the elimination of hepatitis C across Canada. They are asking supporters to sign a Parliamentary Petition.
BC Organizations doing great work in this area are the Pacific Hepatitis C Network — check out their great Hepatitis C Treatment Information Project — and HepCBC who have a great e-newsletter you can signup for.
Finally, we want to acknowledge the many community-based organizations across the province who are supporting people on the frontlines at-risk-of or living-with hepatitis C. Thank you!