CanHepDay on May 11th, 2023

CanHepDay May 11th

Thursday May 11th, 2023 marks the 2nd annual Canadian Viral Hepatitis Elimination Day (CanHepDay). On this day, CanHepC joins its voice to Action Hepatitis Canada, the Canadian Hepatitis B Network (CanHepB), the Canadian Liver Foundation, and the Canadian Association for the Study of the Liver to call for viral hepatitis to be elevated to a national and provincial priority, and for concrete action to be taken to eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health threat in Canada by 2030.

In 2019, it was estimated that 204,000 people in Canada were living with chronic hepatitis C a condition that when left untreated can lead to serious health problems, such as liver failure, liver cancer and early death. The landscape of hepatitis C care has changed dramatically in the past decade. Advances in treatment means that hepatitis C can be cured in 95% of cases through the use of simple, well-tolerated and highly effective antiviral medications. This and other advances in the hepatitis C continuum of care have encouraged researchers, service providers and policy makers to foresee a future where hepatitis C has been eliminated, but many barriers remain to eliminating hepatitis C as a public health threat. The Canadian effort to end hepatitis C must be increasingly measurable, integrated across regions and rooted in evidence. As we are approaching 2030, we need more federal and provincial/territorial leadership to move the needle towards elimination.

On May 11th, CanHepC will be present on Parliament Hill in Ottawa alongside Action Hepatitis Canada, CanHepB, the Canadian Liver Foundation, and the Canadian Association for the Study of the Liver to meet with members of parliament and policy makers to discuss viral hepatitis elimination. Discussions will be framed around 5 asks, calling on the Federal government to:

1. Update the Federal STBBI Action Plan to include strategies, targets, and indicators in consultation with priority populations and using a health equity lens to measure progress in the elimination of viral hepatitis.

2. Update Canada's hepatitis C screening guidelines so they are evidence-based (remove risk-based screening) and develop screening guidelines for hepatitis B.

3. Expedite testing-to-treatment link by engaging with manufacturers of point-of-care confirmatory testing technology so they can be used in Canada.

4. Increase funding to support the expansion of harm reduction programs (for clean needles and syringes) in all Canadian jurisdictions.

5. Fund and increase efforts to collect updated hepatitis B and C prevalence estimates for all Canadian provinces and territories.

Finally, Action Hepatitis Canada will also be launching a revised viral hepatitis elimination progress report assessing how Canadian provinces are doing in terms of elimination strategies, hepatitis C virus RNA reflex testing, prevention measures such as needle and syringe programs, same day treatment starts and more. Many of our CanHepC members have participated in this report update as reviewers and contributors.

For more information, and a media toolkit to use in your region to raise awareness for CanHepDay please visit Action Hepatitis Canada’s website.