$2.3-Million Investment Will Help 1,500 Patients A Year Complete Their
TORONTO, Feb. 16 /CNW/ - The McGuinty government is helping people with
hepatitis C get the nursing care and support they need to complete their
treatment regimen and lead healthier and more active lives, Health and
Long-Term Care Minister George Smitherman announced today.
"People with hepatitis C often find it difficult to stick to their
treatments because of the side effects they suffer," said Smitherman. "We want
to provide patients with the nursing care and support they need to complete
their treatment program and improve their chances of beating this disease."
The government is providing $2.3-million to hire up to 20 nurses who will
provide support to approximately 1,500 patients a year in Ontario and ensure
they follow their hepatitis C treatment plans. The funding includes salaries,
administrative costs, ongoing program evaluation and nurse training. Nurses
will help manage patients' treatment - individualized services could include
helping patients monitor their side effects and better cope with them through
counselling. The nurse will consult with the treating physician who may decide
to change the course of treatment depending on the type and severity of the
Treatment for hepatitis C lasts between 24 weeks and 48 weeks through a
combination drug therapy of interferon and ribavirin. This treatment causes
many side effects including severe depression, fatigue, mood swings and
anemia. These side effects cause many patients to discontinue their treatment,
potentially worsening their condition.
A provincial advisory committee will identify where nurses will be
located based on hepatitis C statistics on rates of infection and identify
local agencies that can best support additional care needs of people
undergoing treatment for hepatitis C.
Studies have shown that up to 90 per cent of patients are able to
complete their treatment with nursing support - compared to only 30 per cent
who do so with no support. Successfully completed treatment can cure up to
60 per cent of patients with hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C is an infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis C virus
(HCV). The disease is spread through contact with the blood of an infected
person. While some people with HCV may show no symptoms, others develop
jaundice. Chronic hepatitis can lead to cirrhosis (scarring of the liver)
which occurs in about 20 per cent of patients. In severe cases, this can lead
to liver cancer or death.
An estimated 110,000 people in Ontario have hepatitis C and of those,
35,000 don't know they have the virus. Hepatitis C is a silent and potentially
fatal disease that can show no signs or symptoms for years.
In 2006 the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care launched a
province-wide public awareness campaign encouraging individuals at risk to
talk to their doctors and get tested for hepatitis C.
Today's initiative is part of the McGuinty government's plan for
innovation in public health care, building a system that delivers on three
priorities - keeping Ontarians healthy, reducing wait times and providing
better access to doctors and nurses.
This news release, along with other media materials, such as matte
stories and audio clips, on other subjects, are available on our website
at: http://www.health.gov.on.ca under the News Media section.
For more information on achievements in health care, visit:
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For further information: Media Contacts: David Spencer, Minister's
Office, (416) 327-4320; A.G. Klei, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care,
(416) 314-6197; Members of the general public: 1-866-532-3161