Five ideas to scale up hepatitis C services in Canada
Hepatitis C is curable. Today’s treatment regimens are highly effective and easy to complete. And it has the added benefit of preventing transmission to others, making it possible to eliminate hepatitis C from Canada.
However, for many of the most marginalized people affected by hepatitis C in Canada, including people who use drugs, treatment remains frustratingly out of reach. Those who are most at risk are also the ones most often missed by healthcare services.
But researchers and service providers in Canada and around the world have developed strategies to address these challenges. We sat down with some of the leading international voices working in hepatitis C to find out what Canada could do to help us reach elimination. Here are their ideas.
Integrate hepatitis C treatment into existing harm reduction and HIV services
Dr. Sunil Suhas Solomon, Johns Hopkins University (United States)
Dr. Sunil Suhas Solomon describes how we can improve access to care by integrating treatment services into places where people at risk are already accessing healthcare and prevention services.
Treat networks of people, not just individuals
Dr. Margaret Hellard, Burnet Institute (Australia)
Dr. Margaret Hellard’s research looks at using treatment to prevent transmission among networks of people who commonly use drugs together. Dubbed the “treat your friends” model, this is a more targeted approach to elimination.
Make treatment pathways less complicated for people to navigate
Dr. John Dillon, Dundee University (Scotland)
Dr. John Dillon focuses on how we can reduce the number of steps and appointments required for treatment. By making this process as simple as possible, this will prevent hard-to-reach clients from dropping out of care.
Hepatitis C services delivered by community members and peers
Sione Crawford, Harm Reduction Victoria (Australia)
People who use drugs often fall through the cracks of the traditional health system. Sione Crawford suggests that the provision of treatment services led by trained community members and people with lived experience could help to link these individuals to care.
The importance of offering more than just hepatitis C services
Hugo Bissonnet, Centre Sida Amitié (Canada)
Hugo Bissonnet describes the importance of creative and low-threshold ways to deliver health services to people who use drugs and how different offers can engage people in care. By building trust in the community, providers can encourage people to get hepatitis C services, and once cured, people feel more empowered to address other concerns.
To view English subtitles, click the ‘CC’ button.
Want to see more? Browse more videos from INHSU 2019 speakers here.
Christopher Hoy is a knowledge specialist in hepatitis C community health programming at CATIE.
The HIV and Hepatitis C Community Action Fund, administered by the Public Health Agency of Canada, supports community innovation in prevention, and linkage to testing, treatment and care, in the context of the underlying systemic barriers that impede access to these services. Working in collaboration with affected populations, provinces and territories, community-based organizations, and non-reserve First Nations, Inuit and Metis organizations, this Fund is an important mechanism to facilitate the evaluation and scale-up of effective strategies.