Why do First Nations, Métis and Inuit in Canada carry such an unfair burden of hepatitis C in Canada? It is estimated that hepatitis C among Indigenous people is five-times higher than non-Indigenous Canadians. In particular, Indigenous women represent almost half of all hepatitis C cases in their communities, a much higher proportion than among the non-Indigenous Canadian population. Young Indigenous people (24 years and under) represent 70% to 80% of hepatitis C infections among people who inject drugs in Canada.
Harm reduction and gay men’s HIV prevention could be considered two historic elements in our HIV response that have long stood separate from one another. Traditionally, HIV prevention with gay men focused on sexual risk, while harm reduction focused on risks associated with injection drug use. Both approaches have evolved over the decades and some might argue that safer sex is a form of harm reduction, but in the context of drug use, there has been little focus given to harm reduction in the context of gay men’s sexual health.
Despite the fact that harm reduction services and ideas are always started by people who use drugs, they are not always included in the design and delivery of these programs as they become more formalized, especially in healthcare settings and for medical issues related to drug use.
Canada’s overdose crisis continues to grow, claiming nearly 4,000 lives last year alone. In the midst of this emergency, more than 1,000 frontline workers converged in Edmonton last month for Stimulus 2018, Canada’s first national conference on harm reduction and drug policy.
The CATIE Blog hosts the views and opinions of people and organizations working and volunteering in Canada’s response to HIV and hepatitis C.