Sharing the voices of people with lived experience on World Hepatitis Day

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Launched in 2019, the Connecting with Care films profile innovative models of hepatitis C care for people who use drugs in Toronto, Montreal and Ahtahkakoop First Nation. These films were a partnership between the International Network on Health and Hepatitis in Substance Users (INHSU), the Canadian Network on Hepatitis C (CanHepC) and CATIE. In a recent webinar, we reconnected with the people in these films to learn how they have adapted and responded to the needs of their community during COVID-19.

Central to these films was the impact of people with lived experience in planning and delivering harm reduction and hepatitis C programs. Ahead of World Hepatitis Day, we’re revisiting some of the stories of people featured in the films who are using their lived experience to serve their communities.

Jodie Albert – Ahtahkakoop Health Centre

In her youth, Jodie experienced a dependency on drugs and contracted hepatitis C through the shared use of injecting equipment. Jodie completed her treatment at the Ahtahkakoop Health Centre, and today, she lives in Ahtahkakoop with her two children working as an outreach worker. She is passionate about working in her community and encouraging people to get tested and supporting those who are on treatment so they can also be cured like she was. Jodie shares her personal story in this short video below:

Keith Williams – Toronto Community Hep C Program

At the Toronto Community Hep C program, many of the current program staff, including community support worker Keith Williams, are former program clients. Keith captures the positive impact of the program and how it fosters a vibrant and caring culture among its participants. The program has created multiple pathways for people with hepatitis C to build confidence, gain new skills and develop into professionals with valuable experience. People like Keith go on to lead programs like this one and others across the city. Watch this short video to hear more about Keith’s journey:

Simon Chrétien, Dopamine (Montreal)

Spending much of his adult life living in the inner-city neighbourhood of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Simon has faced many challenges in his life and is acutely aware of the stigma and barriers faced by people who use drugs, especially when trying to access healthcare. For a number of years he has accessed services and support at Dopamine and was engaged as a peer navigator when the service established their clinic. Simon’s own experiences inform the way he connects with people who access the clinic’s services. Dopamine is deeply connected to the needs of their local community. Observing the need for low barrier, non-judgmental healthcare prompted them to provide their model of patient-centred care. Simon shares his story in the video below:

 

To find out more about how these programs are adapting to COVID-19, watch the webinar recording below. You can also visit the INHSU website for more information on the Connecting with Care films.

 

Conor Ashleigh is a storyteller and a communications strategist, working with organizations to drive social change across the world, from Africa, to the Pacific Islands, Asia and now Canada. To view his work, visit www.conorashleigh.com.

Christopher Hoy is the manager of hepatitis C community programming at CATIE.

Nikitah Habraken is the program manager at the International Network on Health and Hepatitis in Substance Users (INHSU).

 

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