New Hepatitis C screening guidelines for Canadians

What do Canadians who remember the Slinky, Mr. Potato Head, Captain Kangaroo, Madonna, the Beatles and Woodstock have in common? According to the Canadian Liver Foundation they should be screened for Hepatitis C, which is a virus transmitted through blood that affects the liver. 

Instead of looking at risk factors to decide who to test for Hepatitis C it’s recommended that if you were born between 1945 and 1975 you should be tested. This is because between two-thirds and three-quarters of the 250,000 Canadians infected with Hepatitis C come from this demographic.  

Hepatitis C can stay silent for many years but at the same time be gradually causing severe damage to the liver. When people start having symptoms there is already significant damage done.

A variety of factors put this age group at risk for Hepatitis C, such as:

  • Medical and dental procedures that involved contaminants
  • Blood transfusions and organ transplants before 1992
  • Past drug experimentation

New treatment that is very effective and affordable has made diagnosis of Hepatitis C a priority. The Ontario Government now covers the cost of drugs to treat Hepatitis. The Canadian Federal Government believes in the efficacy of these drugs and have committed to erasing Hepatitis C by 2030. This is a challenging goal and treatment depends on diagnosis, so screening is the first step.

We encourage you to get checked for hepatitis C. Testing is free and available through your primary care provider or at Public Health. Call 1-800-265-7293 to make an appointment at one of our clinics

World Hepatitis Day July 28 campaign image

Dora Eaglesham, Public Health Nurse