CanHepDay on May 9th, 2024

Thursday 9 May, 2024 marks the 3rd annual Canadian Viral Hepatitis Elimination Day (CanHepDay).

On this day CanHepC will be on Parliament Hill in Ottawa alongside Action Hepatitis Canada, the Canadian Hepatitis B Network, the Canadian Liver Foundation, and the Canadian Association for the Study of the Liver to advocate for the following five federal asks:

1. Planning: add targets to measure viral hepatitis elimination progress to the recently updated federal 2024–2030 STBBI Action Plan. An updated federal STBBI Action Plan was launched in January 2024. The plan excludes targets to measure Canada’s progress and inform federally funded projects. Targets are integral to an elimination plan.

2. Testing: update hepatitis C screening guidelines to be evidence-based, develop evidence-based screening guidelines for hepatitis B, and start offering free, voluntary STBBI testing and linkage to care for all immigrants and newcomers. Canada's hepatitis C screening guidelines recommend screening people only if they have certain risk factors, despite all evidence that risk-based screening guidelines are ineffective at identifying chronic hepatitis C infections in time to avoid advanced liver disease or death. Canada does not have national hepatitis B screening guidelines at all, resulting in many people being diagnosed at the same time they receive their liver cancer diagnosis.

3. Testing-to-Treatment Link: engage manufacturers of point-of-care testing technologies to bring these tests to Canada. Hepatitis C is curable and hepatitis B is treatable. It takes several appointments to proceed from initial screening to starting treatment, in part because point-of-care confirmatory testing technology used in other parts of the world is not yet available in Canada.

4. Prevention: update the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) guidelines to recommend universal birth-dose hepatitis B vaccination. Hepatitis B is vaccine-preventable. Canada is out of step with the World Health Organization (WHO)’s recommendation that even regions with low incidence of hepatitis B should provide universal birth dose vaccination. Five provinces still offer the first publicly-funded doses of hepatitis B vaccine in school-based programs for ages 9-12, with a vaccination rate of ~70%, missing the 90% WHO target.

5. Data: fund and increase efforts to collect updated hepatitis B and C prevalence estimates and population-specific cascades of care for all Canadian provinces and territories. In order to measure our progress in viral hepatitis elimination, we need reliable, fulsome data about how many people are affected.

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

#CanHepDay24 #HepCantWait