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Government of Canada Funds Peer Support Network for People Living With Hepatitis C Virus
  Apr 09, 2008 10:28 ET
FORT MCMURRAY, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - April 9, 2008) - Brian Jean, Member of Parliament for Fort McMurray -Athabasca, and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, today announced, on behalf of Minister of Health Tony Clement, $13,500 for the Wood Buffalo HIV/AIDS Society to fund a project addressing the hepatitis C virus (HCV) epidemic, including HCV-HIV co-infections. With this funding, the Society will develop a peer-support network to provide a supportive environment for those infected with or affected by HCV in the region.
"HCV is a devastating but preventable disease," said Minister of Health Tony Clement "By reaching out to at-risk communities and providing them with this kind of support, we will be able to better address risk factors, and help to promote behaviours that can reduce the risk of transmission."
The Wood Buffalo HIV/AIDS Society will build on the principles of peer-based support and health promotion to increase healthy behaviours and reduce the rates of HCV transmission in Fort McMurray. Project activities will include the development of a formalized community network of project partners; promotion of HCV prevention to increase knowledge and awareness within the community and among at-risk populations; and the development of peer support groups for those living with or affected by HCV. The project will also address issues of co-infection, including co-infection with HIV.
"The Government of Canada is dedicated to building strong and healthy communities," said Member of Parliament Brian Jean. "By addressing HCV at the community level, our government is making a difference for people here in Fort McMurray."
HCV is spread through contact with infected blood and causes an inflammation of the liver that can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancers. Approximately 250,000 people in Canada are living with HCV and approximately 3,200 newly acquired infections are diagnosed each year. Conditions caused by HCV (e.g. cirrhosis or liver cancer) progress slowly, and symptoms may not show for years; therefore, approximately an estimated 35 per cent of those persons living with the virus are unaware that they are infected.
Some common risk factors for HCV infections include:
- Sharing needles or other drug-related equipment;
- Getting a tattoo, body piercing or acupuncture from an operator who does not use sterilized equipment or techniques;
- Being born to a mother with HCV;
- Being exposed to infected blood in the workplace, such as needle stick injuries, or any other incident where inflected blood comes in contact with broken skin; and
- Being exposed to contaminated medical equipment in parts of the world where HCV is endemic
- Sharing personal items (like a razor or toothbrush) with an infected person.
Persons who were exposed to contaminated blood, blood products or organ transplantation prior to 1992 may also be at risk.
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