HepCBC was thrilled to get an invitation to a Selkirk College student nurse-initiated seminar in Castlegar, BC March 20, 2017.

Robin Tomlin, HepCBC Board Member from nearby Robson, coordinated with the students, Janelle Jaworenko and Katrina Verigin, and their instructor Tammy McLean. Robin joined our President, Rosemary Plummer, RN, and Volunteer Cheryl Reitz for the day. Starting at 8 am sharp, we presented “Hepatitis C 101,” bringing in all the latest epidemiology, treatment news, and our perspective on local-regional-national-international advocacy efforts to promote equitable access to HCV drugs as well as more basic concepts such as the differences between hepatitis A, B, and C.

Following this, hepatology nurse, Leeya Brind’Amour who works with local internist, Dr. Phil Malpass, at their liver clinic, presented much fuller information about the new Direct-Acting Antivirals (DAAs), evolving treatment protocols, and the response in the Kootenays to the challenge of treating everyone who needs to be treated. Everyone present seemed to agree that the earlier a person is treated, the more likely the treatment will be successful, and the greater the number of quality years of life will be saved.

We showed the 20-minute version of the film “Deal with It – Untold Stories of Hepatitis C in Canada” (full 60-minute version available on You Tube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9TZo3hFaYk ). This was followed by a “Patient Panel” with Robin, Cheryl, and another local patient advocate, Ray Bouliane, with Rosemary providing her nursing perspective. Next, the two Selkirk students performed a skit about hepatitis C’s stigma and the need for sensitivity by medical personnel. In it, a woman with a history of hepatitis C and long-past IV drug use presents at emergency with severe abdominal pain. Instead of focusing on her pain and its cause, the nurse only questions her about drug use and the situation soon evolves into a very negative experience for the patient. The final presentation, by Chloë Sage, involved with Prevention, Education, and Hep C at ANKORS Nelson, covered opioid use in the Kootenays from a harm-reduction perspective, the local community’s response to the hepatitis C epidemic, and the current funding crisis faced by HIV and hepatitis C non-profit organizations in BC.

This event was very well-received by all participants, who included social work students as well as nursing students, faculty, and community members. Our hope is that we advanced the idea that the elimination of hepatitis C requires a local as well as national and international response, and cooperation among a diversity of stakeholders within each community. Several local sponsors contributed food, lodging, and gifts (list to follow next week). Sponsors of HepCBC’s work include the phamaceuticals Gilead, AbbVie, Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Janssen.

Check out Part 1 of the 2017 Road Trip to BC`s Interior Here: http://hepcbc.ca/2017/03/17/uralremoteindigenous-hepatitis-c-outreach-2017-part-1/