Canada is one of 194 countries that endorsed the World Health Organization’s Global Health Sector Strategy on Viral Hepatitis in 2016, committing to – among other things – the elimination of viral hepatitis as a major public health threat by 2030.
But what does eliminating viral hepatitis mean in practice? The recent Global Hepatitis Summit in Toronto from June 14 to 17, 2018, brought together researchers, healthcare providers, and public health practitioners from around the world to try to answer this question. Presenters shared the latest research findings, marked which countries are on track to meet the targets, and discussed what is needed in the rest of the world to get to elimination.
Depuis plus de 10 ans que nous attendions ce moment : les sites d’injection supervisée (SIS) sont arrivés! Nous y voilà rendus! Ça fait bientôt un an que nous sommes ouverts. Mise en contexte : les SIS sont un projet régional qui est chapeauté par plusieurs structures. Quatre organismes communautaires, dont Dopamine, et le Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal sont dans le coup et assurent les ressources humaines nécessaires pour mettre en place un tel service. Ceci dit, Dopamine est un organisme en réduction des méfaits qui travaille en prévention VIH, VHC et autres ITSS dans le quartier Hochelaga-Maisonneuve à Montréal depuis plus de 24 ans. Dopamine écoute, réfère et accompagne les gens au travers de leurs demandes. Les valeurs de l’organisme sont l’humanisme, la solidarité et la proximité. Le SIS offre une complémentarité à l’offre de service de soir, de 20 h à 1 h du matin, 7 jours sur 7.
Every year on July 28, we mark World Hepatitis Day with an event to educate, gather together, and also remember those we have lost from the hepatitis C community. This year, we should have much to celebrate: in early 2017, medications that had previously been unavailable were finally added to some formularies, including Ontario’s. This means that people with certain types of hepatitis C who have been waiting years to access safe, effective medication will finally be able to start treatment and be cured. For many, being cured means avoiding potentially fatal outcomes like liver failure and liver cancer. It also means shedding the burden of carrying a highly stigmatized illness that is often met with ignorance, ostracism and discrimination.
At the opening of the recent 25th Harm Reduction International Conference in Montreal, the Minister of Health Jane Philpott announced that more people have died in the overdose epidemic in the past few years than died during the height of the AIDS crisis in the late 80s and early 90s. In 2016, it is estimated that 2,300 people died of overdose—preventable deaths caused by the prohibition of drugs.
In response to that sobering and sad announcement, we wrote an article asking for people engaged in the response to HIV to show support and solidarity with people who use drugs. We believe that making connections between the two epidemics can help build solidarity, increase public support and mobilize people into action to address the national overdose crisis. We wrote:
“People who have lived through the AIDS crisis, who work in HIV organizations, who call themselves allies of the HIV community, who have attended an HIV fundraiser, who have learned about the history of AIDS activism, we make an appeal to you: The time for you to step up and end the massive injustice taking place against people who use drugs is now. We need more resources. We need the government to take our solutions seriously. We need the overdose epidemic to be declared a national emergency. Help us do this.”
So what can you do if you want to show support and solidarity? Here are six things you and your organization can do:
La transmission du VIH et du VHC constitue encore aujourd’hui un problème de santé publique de première importance. Certains comportements, comme l’usage de drogues par injection et par inhalation, entraînent des risques importants de transmission. En effet, selon les données de surveillance [i], 15 % des personnes qui vont dans les centres d’accès au matériel d’injection et d’inhalation sont infectées au VIH et 63 % au VHC.
The CATIE Blog is written for people and organizations working and volunteering in Canada’s response to HIV and hepatitis C and hosts the views and opinions of frontline service providers.