The 8th Canadian Symposium on Hepatitis C highlights

The 8th Canadian Symposium on Hepatitis C Virus (CSHCV) took place in Montreal on Friday 24 May, 2019 as part of the Canadian Liver Meeting (CLM), a 3-day meeting co-organised by CanHepC, the Canadian Association for the Study of the Liver (CASL) and the Canadian Association of Hepatology Nurses (CAHN).

The Symposium was chaired by Dr Selena Sagan and Dr Giada Sebastiani this year, under the theme “Improving diagnosis: how to reach the undiagnosed population” and attracted an ever increasing number of participants (over 360!). As in previous years the CSHCV included presentations by CanHepC trainees and members on some of the latest research discoveries in the field of hepatitis C in Canada and showcased some exciting keynotes presentations.

In the Biomedical Research session, Dr Ralf Bartenschlager from the University of Heidelberg gave an overview of some of the remaining challenges in hepatitis C research describing the findings that lead to the understanding of innate antiviral defense by persistent hepatitis viruses. Dr Sonia MacParland of the University of Toronto followed with an interesting presentation on the utilization of single cell RNA sequencing to develop reference maps of the human liver microenvironment.

The Social, Cultural, Environmental, and Population Health Research session started with a presentation from Dr Stuart C. Ray from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, on the latest in hepatitis C testing and diagnostic. Dr John Kim from the Public Health Agency of Canada followed with a talk on simplified testing in community based settings.

Dr Hashem B. El-Serag, from the Baylor College of Medicine started the Clinical Research session with a presentation on some of the latest findings on the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma post hepatitis C treatment while Dr Keyur Patel from the University Health Network presented on liver fibrosis staging in hepatitis C.

In the Health Services Research session, Dr Jagpreet Chhatwal from the Harvard Medical School gave a talk on the feasibility and cost of hepatitis C elimination. Dr Christina Greenaway from McGill University gave an overview of the barriers and enablers for hepatitis C screening, linkage to care, and treatment completion for the migrant population citing examples from the Aagahi outreach program.

The last session of the Symposium was marked by a timely and insightful panel discussion on engaging people with lived experience to improve hepatitis C diagnosis and linkage-to-care in programming and research with several discussants from front-line and community organisations (Dopamine, Access Place, Toronto Community Hepatitis C Program, etc.) moderated by Christopher Hoy at CATIE.

The CanHepC trainee award ceremony brought an end to the 8th edition of the CSHCV. The following inaugural session of the Canadian Liver Meeting was dedicated to the CanHepC Blueprint to inform hepatitis C elimination efforts in Canada launch, presented by Dr Jordan Feld and followed by a panel discussion.

Photo credit: Alain Dufour