HepCBC Reaches Inmates through Info-Fairs at 8 Federal Prisons in BC: November 5 – 9, 2018 – Abbotsford, Harrison Mills, Agassiz/Harrison Hot Springs, Mission, and Metchosin, BC

November 13, 2018 – One of the most likely places to acquire and/or to be living with hepatitis C is prison, with 20-40X the national prevalence of HCV (https://ctac.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Access-to-Treatment-in-Federal-Institutions-Web-1.pdf). Conversely, with its concentrated and highly-regulated population, a prison can be one of the easiest places to treat, cure, and even eliminate, the disease. With this in mind, between November 5 and 9, 2018, two HepCBC Volunteers, Leon Anderson and Cheryl Reitz, drove between Vancouver and several Fraser Valley communities every day for a week (Monday through Friday morning) to participate in federal prison “Community Resource Expos” (also known as info-fairs) sponsored by the John Howard Society. Another HepCBC Volunteer, Douglas Laird, organized and manned HepCBC’s resource table at the Vancouver Island info-fair in a prison outside the community of Metchosin on Friday afternoon. These federal prison info-fairs are held every June and November. This was our second round of fairs, though our first round in June included a couple “lockdowns” which prevented us from visiting the affected prisons. This time we were fortunate that there were no lockdowns.

Our main “outreach” goals were to encourage/educate inmates (and any staff we could) about:

  • Accessing HepCBC’s peer-driven viral hepatitis education, navigation, and advocacy services (including toll-free help line)
  • Prevention of viral hepatitis, including use of harm reduction methods (condoms, lubrication, and dental dams available now, with needle exchange programs being added in all Canadian federal prisons by August, 2020)
  • Regular testing, especially if still engaged in high risk activities
  • Vaccination and treatment for hepatitis B, and treatment/cure for hepatitis C
  • Follow-up monitoring
  • Confronting stigma and self-stigma, and
  • Discovering any possible barriers to the above which stand in the way of linkage to care and eventual elimination of hepatitis C (and B) in BC’s federal prisons

The rest of this detailed article is available as a pdf, which you can download here: 



Philip Wilkin, Chair of HepCBC’s Prison Outreach Committee, is very pleased to announce today the launch of a new pamphlet, a toll-free phone “Hotline” for prisoners, and a new Hepatitis Prison Outreach webpage. The pamphlet, “Hepatitis C: Breaking Down the Bars between Prison Health and Public Health,” will be widely distributed to prisoners and their allies over the coming weeks. It invites prisoners, their families and allies, and prison-experienced individuals to contact the Committee for its services: Confidential phone or email information and support, or mailed written materials tailored to the prisoner’s needs. The people answering queries will have lived-experience with either hepatitis B or C, or inside the prison system, or both. They understand confidentiality issues, are non-judgemental, and are committed to listening carefully while doing their best to help. Most are, at this point at least, very dedicated volunteers.

While hepatitis C is the main issue this Committee will address, it is preparing to address co-infection and hepatitis B issues as needed. HepCBC will also be increasing its advocacy work on behalf of BC’s and Canada’s prisoners, with the major goals being:

(1) Hepatitis B and C treatment and care equity for prisoners – same access on both sides of the bars, and a seamless transfer of medical information, treatment, and care between prison and outside and

(2) Prevention of hepatitis B and C infection and re-infection in the prisons through the use of a variety of harm reduction measures including education and supplies.

HepCBC’s Prison Outreach Committee looks forward to working with anyone or any group that shares these goals.


  • TOLL-FREE PHONE: 1-844-268-2118 (option 1)
  • DIRECT-LINE PHONE: 1-604-210-2901
  • FAX: 1-604-424-4374
  • EMAIL: Send first Email through our website’s CONTACT FORM (bottom of hepcbc.ca/contact-us/ page). We will reply via email.


DOWNLOAD HEPATITIS B PAMPHLET for ANYONE at www.hepcbc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/HBV_Brochure_NEW_CONTACT_INFO.pdf

DOWNLOAD VIRAL HEPATITIS COLOURING BOOK and ART CONTEST at www.hepcbc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/20180919_ColouringBook_edition1b.pdf


Prison Colouring Book


There will be a vast increase in spending on treatment for the estimated 2700 federal inmates infected with Hepatitis C virus (HCV). Correctional Service Canada (CSC) has a treatment budget for 2017-18 of $16.5 million, nearly four times the amount budgeted in 2010, according to Ivan Zinger, the Correctional Investigator of Canada.

“This is a story of good leadership at the federal level,” said Zinger.

In 2015, Zinger called on CSC to expand HCV treatment as an investment in public health. He credited CMAJ for “important work that kept the pressure on,” referring to a series of news articles, starting in 2012, on HCV treatment rates in prisons.

The number of inmates started on HCV treatment doubled, to 606, between 2015 and 2016, said Zinger. Another 121 began treatment in April and May of this year. “At this rate, CSC could start over 1000 offenders on curative HCV therapies” in 2017, he said.

CSC’s new approach to HCV treatment can be credited to the introduction of new direct-acting antivirals, bulk purchasing agreements with drug makers, and updated treatment guidelines by the Canadian Association of the Study of the Liver, according to Jennifer Wheatley, assistant commissioner of health services for CSC.

“All inmates diagnosed with hepatitis C are now eligible for treatment,” she said.

Read the rest of the story here: http://cmajnews.com/2017/07/27/dramatic-budget-increase-for-hepatitis-treatment-in-federal-prisons-cmaj-109-5468/