National Inuit women’s association develops partnerships, continues awareness campaign on viral infection
Though it’s current prevalence within the Inuit population is still unclear, Pauktuutit, the national Inuit women’s association, wants to ensure that Inuit understand the risks posed by hepatitis C and how to protect themselves from it.
To that end, Pauktuutit teamed up with their long-time partner, the Canadian Aboriginal Aids Network, for an awareness event in Ottawa held May 15 as part of National Aboriginal Hepatitis C Awareness Month.
“It’s been a wonderful partnership,” Pauktuutit’s executive director, Tracy O’Hearne said at the start of the event.
Right now, the Nunavut government has little or no information on hepatitis C infection rates in the territory since the middle of the last decade, though between 2005 and 2009, Nunavut’s rates were lower than elsewhere in the country.
But a report from the Public Health Agency of Canada on hepatitis C rates 2012 contains no information from Nunavut.
Past surveys cited by Health Canada reveal hepatitis C infection rates in Nunavik and Nunatsiavut that are lower than provincial averages.
But it’s a worrisome disease, for many reasons. Based on very rough estimates, researchers believe First Nations and Inuit suffer hepatitis C infection rates of between 1 per to 18 per cent.
That compares with a national infection rate of about one in every 100 Canadians.