What is World Hepatitis Day?
World Hepatitis Day is an international event focused on raising awareness about viral hepatitis and influencing real change in disease prevention and access to testing and treatment.
The first World Hepatitis Day was held in 2008. In July 2010, the World Health Organization endorsed July 28th as an official global health awareness day in honor of hepatitis.
Today, about 500 million people worldwide – one in 12 – are living with chronic viral hepatitis B or C. In Canada, an estimated 600,000 people have viral hepatitis, with many unaware of their status.
World Hepatitis Day in Canada
The Canadian Society for International Health (CSIH) coordinates World Hepatitis Day activities in Canada. Visit the World Hepatitis Day Canadian Microsite.
Different takes on access to hepatitis C treatment
If healing to a large extent means making people feel whole again, then looking at the whole person may be the most effective way to heal. That is the idea behind some innovative Canadian programs that are addressing the needs of people living with or at risk of contracting hepatitis C.
Click here to read more...
A brief history of hepatitis C: 1989 - 2012
The first alpha interferon is approved for the treatment for hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C becomes a notifiable disease in Canada. Non-A, non-B hepatitis is removed from the list of notifiable diseases in 1999.
A more sensitive screening test is developed and used to screen blood donations for hepatitis C, effectively eliminating hepatitis C transmission through the blood supply in Canada. It is estimated that 90,000 to 160,000 Canadians contracted hepatitis C through infected blood or blood products between 1960 and 1992.
In response to growing concerns about the efficiency, effectiveness and safety of Canada’s blood system, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health and Welfare, Social Affairs, Seniors and the Status of Women form a subcommittee to report on the subject.
The Hepatitis C Society of Canada (HeCSC) is founded by Dr. Alan T.R. Powell. The HeCSC is a national voluntary health organization whose mission is to fight hepatitis C through prevention, early detection, treatment and support. Over time, the HeCSC grows to around 40 chapters across Canada, offering support groups, local peer counseling, publications and seminars.
The Egyptian Ministry of Health estimates that 15 to 20 percent of Egyptians are infected with HCV. Similar to the experience of many countries including Italy, the Ministry links the epidemic to a nationwide vaccination campaign, during which needles were re-used. Egypt continues to report the highest hepatitis C rate in the world.
The Canadian government agrees to offer financial assistance to Canadians infected with hepatitis C through the blood system between January 1, 1986, and July 1, 1990.
Health Canada holds a national consensus conference in Ottawa: Hepatitis C – Prevention and Control: a Public Health Consensus.
The Canadian government establishes the Enhanced Hepatitis Strain Surveillance System (EHSSS), a national initiative to investigate newly identified cases of HCV and acute hepatitis B virus (HBV) from participating sites.
Health Canada approves the first combination of alpha interferon and ribavirin for the treatment of hepatitis C.
The Canadian government launches the Hepatitis C Prevention, Support and Research Program as part of its response to the report of the Commission of Inquiry on the Blood System in Canada. Scheduled to finish in 2004, the program will go on to receive three separate one-year extensions before finally wrapping up in 2007.
The Atlantic Hepatitis C Coalition (now Hepatitis Outreach Society) is founded in Nova Scotia.
- Pegylated interferon is developed for the treatment of hepatitis C.
CATIE-News reports on the possible sexual transmission of hepatitis C among men who have sex with men. This controversial and initially discounted mode of transmission is now well-established.
Actress Pamela Anderson publicly announces that she has hepatitis C. She speaks openly about living with hepatitis C and kicks off a 2002 Canadian Liver Foundation (CLF) hepatitis campaign.
The Hepatitis C Council of BC (now the Pacific Hepatitis C Network) is founded in British Columbia.
The 1st National Aboriginal Hepatitis C Conference, hosted by NECHI Training, Research and Health Promotions Institute, takes place in Edmonton, Alberta.
Insite, North America’s first supervised injection facility, opens its doors in Vancouver, British Columbia.
The Canadian Public Health Association announces the establishment of the Canadian Hepatitis C Information Centre. The Centre is to be a multi-service information centre (online, in print and by telephone) that collects and circulates hepatitis C educational materials across the country.
The Centre Associatif Polyvalent d’Aide Hépatite C is founded in Québec.
The 2nd National Aboriginal Hepatitis C Conference, hosted by Chee Mamuk, takes place in Vancouver, British Columbia.
The 5th edition of the Canadian AIDS Society’s HIV Transmission: Guidelines for Assessing Risk includes a section on hepatitis C transmission. This addition is “acknowledging the many AIDS Service Organizations and front-line workers who have taken on the role of delivering HCV transmission information in the absence of an official strategy from Health Canada on coping with this second epidemic.”
Hepatitis C virus transmission in the prison/inmate population is published in the Public Health Agency of Canada's (PHAC) Communicable Disease Report. It highlights a significant disproportionate hepatitis C prevalence rate among people in prison (between 19.2% and 39.8%) compared to the general population in Canada (approximately 0.8%).
The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) establishes the Ontario Hepatitis C Secretariat to develop policies and programs that meet the needs of people with hepatitis C in that province.
The 2nd Canadian Conference on Hepatitis C is held in Vancouver, British Columbia.
A provincial committee on hepatitis C, the Comité de travail sur l'état de la situation sur l'hépatite C, is established in Québec.
By 2006, prison needle exchange programs have been established or piloted in a number of countries around the world including Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Moldova, the Kyrgyz Republic, Armenia and Iran.
The Safer Tattooing Practices Initiative evaluation report prepared by CSC concludes, among other things, that “initial results of the initiative indicate potential to reduce harm, reduce exposure to health risk, and enhance the health and safety of staff members, inmates and the general public with higher risk groups.” The initiative is canceled.
Commissioned by CSC, PHAC prepares a report of scientific and technical advice on the potential benefits and risks of prison needle exchange programs. The report concludes that, in other jurisdictions, these programs significantly reduce disease transmission and there is no evidence that they increase drug use or compromise institutional safety.
The World Hepatitis Alliance is founded.
The new National Anti-Drug Strategy is the first in many years to explicitly exclude funding for—or even any mention of—harm reduction measures, while adding significant new funding for additional efforts to enforce criminal laws on drugs.
The Pre-1986/Post-1990 Hepatitis C Class Action Settlement Agreement is approved by the courts. This is a compensation plan for people infected with hepatitis C through the blood system in Canada before 1986 or after 1990.
Without a commitment of funding for the next year, many hepatitis service organizations close their doors, including the Canadian Hepatitis C Information Centre and the Hepatitis C Society of Canada.
The World Hepatitis Alliance launches the first World Hepatitis Day on May 19 with a campaign called Am I Number 12? This refers to the statistic that, worldwide, one in every 12 people is living with a form of viral hepatitis. A World Hepatitis Day in Canada planning committee is established under the leadership of CLF. Advocacy and awareness-raising activities are organized across Canada including the development of six Canadian government “Asks”.
Canada’s federal Minister of Health, Tony Clement, announces the renewal of the Hepatitis C Prevention, Support and Research Program with the commitment of ongoing funding, annually.
The Vienna Declaration, a statement seeking to improve community health and safety by calling for the incorporation of scientific evidence into illicit drug policies, is launched at the 18th International AIDS Conference in Vienna, Austria.
The 63rd World Health Assembly of the World Health Organization (WHO) passes a viral hepatitis resolution, recognizing, among other points, “the need to reduce incidence to prevent and control viral hepatitis, to increase access to correct diagnosis and to provide appropriate treatment programmes in all regions.”
The WHO endorses July 28th as World Hepatitis Day, making it the fourth official global health awareness day, alongside HIV, malaria and tuberculosis.
The 1st Canadian HIV/HBV/HCV Co-infection Research Summit is held in Toronto, Ontario. It is organized by the Canadian Treatment Action Council (CTAC) in partnership with many national and community-based organizations.
Following many legal battles, the Supreme Court of Canada rules that Insite can continue to operate under a constitutional exception to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Since this ruling, discussions on supervised injection facilities have gained momentum in cities across the country.
Almost ten years after the last development in hepatitis C treatment, two new medications are approved for genotype 1 hepatitis C.
The MOHLTC establishes multidisciplinary treatment and support teams throughout the province to expand access to care and improve treatment outcomes.
Musicians Gregg Allman, Natalie Cole and Jon Secada turn up the volume around hepatitis C at Tune in to Hep C, a US-based public health campaign created to raise awareness about the virus.
On the occasion of World Hepatitis Day 2011, the Canadian Coalition of Organizations Responding to Hepatitis B and C releases a report card that, using the six Canadian “Asks,” assesses provincial, territorial and federal government responses to hepatitis C.
The WHO sponsors its first official World Hepatitis Day with the theme, “This is Hepatitis … Know it. Confront it. Hepatitis affects everyone, everywhere.” The WHO supports activities around the world through collaboration with civil society.
- CASL convenes a 3rd national consensus conference on the management of viral hepatitis.
The Sexuality Education Resource Centre (SERC) in Winnipeg, Manitoba releases Living Healthy: What You Need to Know about Hepatitis C in Canada a brochure in six African languages, English and French.
- The Canadian Coalition of Organizations Responding to Hepatitis B and C changes its name to Action Hepatitis Canada.
The Canadian Liver Foundation releases Liver Disease in Canada: A Crisis in the Making. This report outlines the scope of liver disease in Canada and urges federal, provincial and territorial governments and related health agencies to work together to develop a national liver disease strategy.
B.C. announces $1.9 million in funding for Hep B and C research and education, awareness-raising and prevention of hepatitis B among immigrant communities.