Highlights of the Canadian Symposium on Hepatitis C Virus 2020

The 9th Canadian Symposium on Hepatitis C Virus (CSHCV) took place in Montreal on Friday 28 February 2020 as part of the Canadian Liver Meeting, a 3-day meeting co-organised by CanHepC, the Canadian Association for the Study of the Liver and the Canadian Association of Hepatology Nurses.

The Symposium was chaired by Drs. Angela Crawley and Curtis Cooper this year, under the theme “Advances in HCV Research and Treatment Towards Elimination” and was attended by over 300 participants. 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 Ellie Barnes from Oxford University summarised progress in the development of a protective vaccine for hepatitis C looking at the political and practical challenges ahead around funding and testing of vaccine candidates. Dr John Law from the University of Alberta gave an overview of his latest work to develop a prophylactic vaccine to prevent hepatitis C infection at the Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute in Edmonton.

The Social, Cultural, Environmental, and Population Health Research session started with a presentation from Dr Natasha Martin from the University of California San Diego, on how models can be used to inform hepatitis C transmission routes among people who inject drugs. Dr Nadine Kronfli from McGill University followed with an update on the implementation of hepatitis C care recommendations in Canadian correctional facilities.

This year the community session was dedicated to the launch of 3 Connecting With Care short films profiling innovative models of hepatitis C care in Canada: A Saskatchewan Story, Athakakoop Health Centre, Montreal’s many models of care and the Toronto Community Hep C Program. These stories were produced in partnership with INHSU, CATIE and CanHepC by Australian film-maker Ashleigh Conor. The preview was followed by a panel discussion with discussants featured in the films moderated by Melisa Dickie (CATIE).

The keynote portion of the Clinical research session was dedicated to hepatitis C in pregnancy and children. Dr Robert Honneger, from Nationwide Children’s USA started the session with findings from some of the latest trials looking at the safety and efficacy of direct acting antivirals in pregnancy. Dr Simon Ling from the University of Toronto talked about the global burden of hepatitis C in children and his perspective on DAA use in paediatric settings.

In the Health Services Research session, Dr Jordan Feld from the University of Toronto gave an update on progress achieved in terms of hepatitis C elimination since the launch of the Blueprint to inform hepatitis C eliminations efforts in Canada at the previous CSHCV in May 2019. Dr Lisa Barrett from Dalhousie University followed with a presentation on the hepatitis C elimination efforts undertaken in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

The CanHepC trainee award ceremony brought an end to this 9th edition of the CSHCV. The following opening presentation of the Canadian Liver Meeting was given by Dr Andrew Aronsohn from the University of Chicago, on elimination efforts in the US.

Photo credit: Canadian Liver Meeting 2020