To mark the occasion of World Hepatitis Day, Tuesday, July 28, ANKORS (AIDS Network Kootenay Outreach and Support Society) is hosting an event in Cranbrook, one among many events taking place across Canada to raise awareness about the disease and the importance of getting tested.
Locally, ANKORS wants to make people aware that Hepatitis is an issue in the East Kootenay.
“The numbers indicate that worldwide, 400 million people are living with Hepatitis B or C,” said ANKORS’s Michelle Shewell. “It’s a much bigger issue than perhaps people are aware of.”
Shewell said that there are an estimated 332,000 Canadians with the blood-borne disease, and some 80,000 British Columbians.
ANKORS’ World Hepatitis Day event starts at noon at Street Angels in downtown Cranbrook. A film will be shown called “Deal With It,” which focusses on Hepatitis C in Canada. Popcorn and drinks are available.
The event then moves down to Rotary Park from 2 p.m. To 5 p.m. ANKORS will have a booth on site and free on-site testing will be available to the public.
Liver disease, liver cancer, and deaths from Hepatitis C are on the rise.
Hepatitis C, the most common strain of the illness in Canada, is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus. Some people are able to clear the virus from their body early on in infection; however, in about three-quarters of people, the infection becomes chronic. Chronic infection can lead to severe liver damage (cirrhosis), liver cancer and liver failure (which requires a liver transplant). There are treatments for hepatitis C, but no vaccine exists to prevent infection.
At the end of 2011, an estimated one out of every 100 Canadians were antibody positive for hepatitis C, indicating either a current or past infection.1
In one study, seventy per cent of the about 138,600 Canadians infected with hepatitis C based on blood tests did not know they had the virus, Statistics Canada says.
Hepatitis C is transmitted when the blood of someone carrying the virus gets into the bloodstream of an uninfected person. This can happen through unsafe medical practices, unsafe sex or unsafe drug use. For many people, treatments are available that can cure Hepatitis C and prevent liver damage, cirrhosis, and even liver cancer. The importance of getting tested is one of the key points World Hepatitis Day is trying to make.
For information contact Michelle Shewell, ANKORS Hepatitis C Prevention & Community
Development Coordinator, 250-426-3383, or firstname.lastname@example.org