Message from the Minister of Health World Hepatitis Day – July 28, 2018
Today, millions of people around the world are taking part in World Hepatitis Day to raise awareness about viral hepatitis. Despite the fact that hepatitis and other sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBI) are largely preventable and treatable, these infections remain a significant public health concern in Canada.
It is estimated that up to 246,000 Canadians are living with chronic hepatitis C, and approximately 44% are unaware of their infection. Hepatitis C can be cured if detected early. However, the longer the infection goes undetected and undiagnosed, the more likely it is for the virus to cause serious liver damage or even death.
The Government of Canada is committed to the global goal of ending viral hepatitis, AIDS and other STBBI as public health threats by 2030. For example, I recently attended the 22nd International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam where I met with key stakeholders and international leaders to help advance the global HIV response. Also, together with my fellow provincial and territorial ministers of health, we just released the first-ever Pan-Canadian STBBI Framework for Action to help Canada do our part to reach the global goal.
As part of this commitment, the Government of Canada is investing $132 million over five years, through the HIV and Hepatitis C Community Action Fund, to support community-based organizations as they work to prevent new infections and reach those who are undiagnosed so they can access testing, treatment and care. In addition, through the Harm Reduction Fund, we are also investing $30 million over five years to reduce hepatitis C and HIV infections among people who share drug-use equipment, as they continue to be at greater risk for these infections.
We also deliver hepatitis C prevention, testing and treatment services for federal populations, including First Nations people living on-reserve, Inuit communities south of the 60th parallel, and inmates in federal penitentiaries.
In addition, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research is partnering with the Public Health Agency of Canada to develop a National Hepatitis C Network. This Network will pursue research to prevent transmission of viral hepatitis; improve treatment access and uptake; and monitor health outcomes of people living with hepatitis C to help guide decision-making.
People often live with hepatitis C for years without symptoms. A blood test is the only way to know whether you have hepatitis C. I encourage Canadians to get the facts about hepatitis C, including information about risk factors for exposure to this infection.
If you think you may be at risk of or have viral hepatitis, speak to your health care provider about getting tested, so that you can know your status, receive treatment and protect your health and that of those around you.
This World Hepatitis Day, let's work together to stop hepatitis in its tracks.
The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor. P.C., M.P.
Minister of Health
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