TORONTO, July 28, 2015 /CNW/ - In Canada, nearly half of people living with hepatitis C don't know they have it. Untreated, hepatitis C can lead to liver disease, cancer, and death. Fortunately, a simple blood test can tell you if you have hepatitis C and new treatments can cure it in a matter of weeks.
It is estimated that 75% of the 1000 people who die each year from hepatitis C in Canada were born between the years of 1945 and 1965. Baby boomers are among those with the highest likelihood of being unknowingly infected with hepatitis C. For many, their exposure to the virus occurred 20 or 30 years ago; the effects of the virus have stayed hidden for decades, with symptoms only recently coming to light.
"We are hoping that Canada will follow in the steps of other countries by recommending evidence-based testing for people born during the baby boom. This would help us uncover thousands of cases," said Patricia Bacon, Chair of Action Hepatitis Canada (AHC). "Thanks to new treatments these people can be treated and in almost all cases, will be cured of the virus, saving them from further liver damage, potential liver cancer and death, and preventing them from unwittingly spreading the virus to others."
New Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) Screening Guidelines are expected to be released in 2016. The AHC is in dialogue with PHAC and is optimistic that the new national guidelines will make recommendations recognizing the hidden epidemic among baby boomers.
"As we continue to collaborate with PHAC over the coming months, we look forward to their leadership on behalf of all Canadians living with and affected by hepatitis C. Until the release of the PHAC guidelines, AHC recommends that all Canadians who are born between 1945 and 1965 talk to their health care provider about being tested for hepatitis C," concluded Ms. Bacon.
On July 28th we observe World Hepatitis Day, recognized by the World Health Organization, and join individuals and organizations around the world calling for government action in an improved response to hepatitis C.
Facts about Hepatitis C:
- Hepatitis C is a chronic infectious disease caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV) that attacks the liver.
- An estimated 242,500 Canadians are living with hepatitis C.
- Many people infected with HCV are unaware of their infection, but are still infectious.
- Hepatitis C is a slowly progressing disease, and there can be no signs or symptoms for decades. The only way to detect the HCV virus is through a blood test.
Action Hepatitis Canada
Action Hepatitis Canada is a national coalition of organizations responding to hepatitis B and C. Our work engages government, policy makers, and civil society across Canada to promote hepatitis B and C prevention, improve access to care and treatment, increase knowledge and innovation, create public health awareness, build health-professional capacity, and support community-based groups and initiatives. Learn more at www.actionhepatitiscanada.ca.
SOURCE Action Hepatitis Canada
Image with caption: "To mark World Hepatitis Day, Action Hepatitis Canada urges those born between 1945-1965 to ask to be tested for hepatitis C next time they visit their doctor. (CNW Group/Action Hepatitis Canada)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20150728_C8354_PHOTO_EN_455445.jpg
Image with caption: "Action Hepatitis Canada (CNW Group/Action Hepatitis Canada)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20150728_C8354_PHOTO_EN_455425.jpg
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