7th Canadian Symposium on HCV highlights

Toronto Canadian Liver Meeting 2018

The 7th Canadian Symposium on HCV (CSHCV) took place in Toronto on Friday 9 February, 2018.

The CSHCV took place as part of the Canadian Liver Meeting (CLM), a new meeting co-organised by CanHepC, the Canadian Association for the Study of the Liver (CASL) and the Canadian Association of Hepatology Nurses (CAHN). For this first program of the CLM, organisers successfully managed to attract researchers, healthcare practitioners and community-based groups with interest in Hepatology.

The CSHCV, organised by CanHepC & chaired by Jordan Feld and Sonia MacParland, under the theme “Toward the Elimination of HCV: How to Get There” attracted a record number of 328 attendees. As in previous years the Symposium 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:

Dr Georg Lauer (Harvard University) and Dr Lisa Barrett started the Symposium with an overview of some of their work in protective immunity, recovery and immune exhaustion in the context of HCV. Dr Jeffrey Lazarus (ISGlobal, University of Barcelona) made us reflect on HCV "micro-elimination" in specific affected groups such as baby boomers, incarcerated or by geographic area and how it can help get closer to the WHO HCV elimination targets.

Dr Jennifer Walker (Laurentian University) tough us about how to respect Indigenous perspectives in HCV research. Lindsay Jennings, Shujaat Hussain and Fozia Tanveer (CATIE) gave us insights on the value of engaging with people with lived experience in the HCV response in incarcerated settings and from the newcomer’s perspective.

Dr Heiner Wedemeyer (Hannover Medical School) kicked-off the Clinical research session with a presentation about NK Cell and T Cell function after cure followed by Dr Jordan Feld who highlighted the importance of tailoring screening strategies.

Dr Homie Razavi (Center for Disease Analysis) presented data from around the world and how they have influenced policy in eliminating HCV. Dr Naveed Janjua gave an overview of some of the latest HCV burden of disease estimates and projections based on data available in Canada and how more needs to be done in terms of treatment scale up.

The closing presentation was from CanHepC PhD trainee Alison Marshall who gave a summary of the research priorities to address in HCV in the context of the WHO HCV elimination targets. The central theme of HCV elimination was present throughout the Symposium and sparked lively discussions on why despite Canada being a signatory to the WHO HCV elimination targets and having ample capacity we don’t have a national elimination strategy for HCV yet. One of the most anticipated talks of the day was from Ricardo Baptista Leite, a Member of the Portuguese Parliament, at the opening remarks of the CLM who talked us through how Portugal took its HCV epidemic in hand by turning policy in action.

The abstracts of the CSHCV and CLM are available in the inaugural issue of the new Canadian Liver Journal and all the presentation from the Symposium are available on YouTube

One of the main outcome of the 7th CSHCV and the network’s Annual Meeting this past February was a unanimous call for leadership to develop a comprehensive Canadian Hepatitis C specific strategy. The call was further echoed during the CLM’s special Public Health and Epidemiology session entitled “What is required to achieve elimination of hepatitis C” chaired by Melisa Dickie (CATIE) and Naveed Janjua (BCCDC) where invited speakers (Dr Jason Greberly, Dr Jeffrey Lazarus and Dr Ricardo Baptista Leite) discussed elimination strategies globally and in Australia and Portugal and how to achieve elimination of HCV in Canada. This gave way to fruitful discussions and CanHepC’s commitment to reunite expertise within its Network of researchers, the community sector and healthcare providers around the production of a consensus document that will take the form of a blueprint to inform HCV elimination efforts in Canada.