A new blueprint to eliminate hepatitis C in Canada was released on May 24, laying out a roadmap to diagnose, treat and prevent infections and re-infections. Staff from the BC Centre for Disease Control are part of the research team that helped develop it.
It was created by the Canadian Hepatitis C (CanHepC) Network with input and leadership from BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) staff. B.C. has been at the forefront of research into understanding the role of vulnerability on health outcomes for hepatitis. The prevention, screening, care and treatment strategies outlined in the Blueprint were shaped by BCCDC research.
The Blueprint recognizes that hep C disproportionately affects five priority populations and calls for specific services that meet the needs of these individuals. The five priority populations include:
- people who inject or use drugs
- Indigenous peoples
- people with experience in the federal or provincial prison systems
- immigrants and newcomers
- men who have sex with men
Baby boomers are also identified as an at-risk population that deserves attention. Born between 1945 and 1975, the baby boomer cohort represents older adults who were infected prior to the availability of tests to diagnose the virus and prevent its spread.
“Hepatitis C is the first chronic viral infection for which medical researchers have developed a cure,” said Dr. Mel Krajden, medical lead for hepatitis for the BCCDC and medical director of BCCDC Public Health Laboratory, who is one of the co-investigators on the CanHepC Network and co-chaired testing component of the Blueprint. “This miracle is all-the-more astounding when you consider the hep C virus itself was only discovered 30 years ago, in 1989.”
“Curing hep C in these priority populations not only prevents progressive liver damage, but it also stops transmission from person-to-person. The Blueprint can help guide us in eliminating hep C from Canada so that future generations may never need to experience the disease and its devastating health impacts.”