Awareness and education key to hepatitis prevention and treatment

Worldwide, there are 600 million people infected with hepatitis B or C

Worldwide, there are 600 million people infected with hepatitis B or C. This includes about 130,000 British Columbians — that’s one in every 33 people. World Hepatitis Day is about raising awareness to support the prevention and treatment of these viral illnesses.

Public funding for the hepatitis B vaccine began in 1992 and since then, B.C. has reduced new infections by more than 95%. In 2013, there were only 11 new infections reported. Most chronic hepatitis B infections in BC are in immigrants who acquired their infection in their country of origin. There is still more work to be done to diagnose and treat people living with hepatitis B to prevent liver damage.

Unlike hepatitis B, there is no vaccine for hepatitis C. However, it can be cured by antiviral drug treatment, which can prevent further transmission. Hepatitis C disproportionately affects four groups of British Columbians, recognizing that many individuals may identify with more than one group: people born between 1945 and 1975; new Canadians who have immigrated from countries where HCV is endemic; Aboriginal British Columbians and people with a history of injection drug use.

The largest of these groups are generally referred to as “baby boomers”, which represent two-thirds of British Columbians living with hepatitis C. While there is a lack of consensus about the exact age range of this cohort, those born between 1945 and 1975 should consider being tested. Most of these people were infected in the distant past and are not likely to transmit their infection. However, as they age, they have a 20 times higher risk of dying from liver disease and liver cancer. Immigrants from countries where hepatitis C is endemic, Aboriginal people and people who inject drugs should also get tested if they are unaware of their status.

Curing hepatitis C reduces the risk of dying from liver disease, improves quality of life, and prevents people from transmitting hepatitis to others. Even if people don’t get treated, knowing if you are infected is still very important because actions like reducing alcohol reduces the risk of developing liver disease.

New, more effective treatments for hepatitis C are now publicly funded. These new drugs have few side effects, are only taken for 8 to 24 weeks and can cure about 95% of those treated. Treatments like these can impact mortality and health outcomes, improving the lives of British Columbians.

Online resources such as, developed in collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada and the BC Centre for Disease Control, provide educational resources for those affected by hepatitis. This website provides information about hepatitis C including details on how hepatitis is spread, getting tested, living with hepatitis C, treatment, and life after treatment.

Resources are available in English, French and have been adapted for Aboriginal audiences.

World Hepatitis Day is about creating awareness, reducing the stigma of viral hepatitis and encouraging people to engage into care so they can be tested and treated when necessary. This collaborative effort will make the dream of hepatitis C elimination a reality.

The BC Centre for Disease Control, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority, provides provincial and national leadership in public health through surveillance, detection, treatment, prevention and consultation services.

The Centre provides both direct diagnostic and treatment services for people with diseases of public health importance and analytical and policy support to all levels of government and health authorities.


Just Posted

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

(TNRD Library)
Let the mystery of the Summer Reading Club begin

Are you ready to ‘Crack the Case’ at the Barriere Library?

(Metro Creative photo)
Gardeners of all ages invited to enter 2021 NT Fall Fair contests

The North Thompson Fall Fair Drive Thru scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 4,… Continue reading

Milsom Lodge was built in the East Barriere Valley when the Milsom brothers purchased two parcels of land in 1911, DL 2323 and DL2324. (Milsom’s photo)
The Milsom Lodge: The mansion, the ballroom, the history

“At the turn of the century, when so many families were leaving… Continue reading

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

White Rock’s Marine Drive has been converted to one-way traffic to allow more patio space for waterfront restaurants. (Peace Arch News)
Province promotes permanent pub patios in B.C. post-pandemic plan

More than 2,000 temporary expansions from COVID-19 rules

Lake City Secondary School Williams Lake campus students Ethan Reid, from left, Brenden Higgins, Ty Oviatt, Kaleb Alphonse, Nathan Kendrick and Landon Brink with RCMP officers Const. Nicoll and Const. Stancec. (Photo submitted)
RCMP thank 6 teens for helping prevent forest fire in Williams Lake

The students came across fire in a wooded area and used the water they had to try and extinguish the flames

There is an emergency shelter near the Golden Ears peaks. (Facebook/Special to The News)
Hiker fogged in on Golden Ears, spends 2 nights

Talon Helicopters, Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue bring him home Monday

Annamie Paul, leader of the Green Party of Canada, speaks at a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on June 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul facing no-confidence motion from party brass

move follows months of internal strife and the defection of MP Jenica Atwin to the Liberals

Tulips bloom in front of the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa, Thursday, May 10, 2018. Day two of a full week of scheduled hearings will be heard in Federal Court today on a case involving Indigenous children unnecessarily taken into foster care by what all parties call Canada’s “broken child welfare system.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
AFN slams Ottawa for ‘heartless’ legal challenge of First Nations child compensation

2019 decision awarded $40,000 to each Indigenous child removed before 2006

Ivy was thrown out of a moving vehicle in Kelowna. Her tail was severely injured and will be amputated. (BC SPCA)
Kitten thrown from moving vehicle, needs help: Kelowna SPCA

The seven-week-old kitten had severe tail and femur injuries

A health-care worker holds up a sign signalling she needs more COVID-19 vaccines at the ‘hockey hub’ mass vaccination facility at the CAA Centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brampton, Ont., on Friday, June 4, 2021. This NHL-sized hockey rink is one of CanadaÕs largest vaccination centres. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
‘Vaxxed to the max’: Feds launch Ask an Expert campaign to encourage COVID shots

Survey shows that confidence in vaccines has risen this spring

Port Alberni court house (Alberni Valley News)
Inquest set into 2016 death of B.C. teen after a day spent in police custody

18-year-old Jocelyn George died of heart failure in hospital after spending time in jail cell

Most Read