Monthly Archives: July 2015

World Hepatitis Day Event Vancouver 2015

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Event programme for the WHD Event

July 28, 2015 is the official World Hepatitis Day 2015. As such, the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) organized the World Hepatitis Day Event for Vancouver on the that day at the Creekside Community Recreation Center.

Various organizations came together at the event to bring awareness to the threats of hepatitis and the advances we have made against them. There were also guest speakers lined up for the day, from patients who have lived with hepatitis, to health care professionals discussing the advancements made to combat the disease.

And, of course, VIDC had to be there! As part of our commitment to a community-based holistic approach to treatment, being at the World Hepatitis Day event is our way of engaging and learning from the community.

Pictures speak louder than words! Check out the photos below to find out how else was VIDC involved at the event.

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VIDC Information Booth
We also had our Community Pop-Up Clinic(CPC), with the support of the First Nations Health Authority, set up! You might remember Brian from when we did Liver Screening at the Gathering Wisdom event.
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Our staff physician, Dr. Alexandra King, also gave a talk at the event bringing awareness to the importance of access to testing for HCV — especially for the indigenous community.
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One of our long-term patients, Brody Williams, sharing his experiences with hepatitis C — from the struggles of gaining access to treatment, to the success story of how he has battled the disease.
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Elder Sharon Jinkreson Bass, Brody Williams, and Dr. Alexandra King also unveiled the Hepatitis C Water Journey Blanket. An homage to the AIDS memorial quilt.

It is through events like these that communities are brought together to teach and learn from each other. And it is through these events that allies are brought together to fight towards a common goal: health and wellness.

To see more photos, check out the HepC BC’s post on World Hepatitis Day Vancouver 2015.

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VIDC July Highlights

VIDC recognizes that to truly provide state-of-the-art care we need to continually inform and re-inform ourselves of what’s current.

This month we had the privilege to do just that! Through different initiatives and community involvement, VIDC was able to reconnect itself with the national and global healthcare community!

July 21: Information Exchange on HIV with Healthcare Professionals from China

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On July 21st, HIV Specialists and Healthcare Professionals — including a representative from the Chinese Center for Disease Control — visited our clinic for an information exchange. Dr. Brian Conway, the President and Medical Director of VIDC, gave a presentation on what VIDC is doingIMG_0797 in the HIV field. After the presentation, he opened the floor to dialogue with the Chinese delegates on the similarities and differences of dealing with HIV.

 

July 22: MAC-FI Meeting with Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Gregory Taylor

From left to right: Ciro Panessa, Dr. David Truong, Dr. Brian Conway, Dr. Gregory Taylor, Dr. Curtis Cooper, _____, Shawn Sharma
From left to right: Ciro Panessa, Dr. David Truong, Dr. Brian Conway, Dr. Gregory Taylor, Dr. Curtis Cooper, Dr. Norbert Bräu, Shawn Sharma

Since Dr. Conway is also the Co-Chair for the  Ministerial Advisory Council on the Federal Initiative to Address HIV/AIDS in Canada (MAC-FI), VIDC had the privilege of hosting  the council’s meeting with Canada’s Chief Public Health Office, Dr. Gregory Taylor.

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Aside from the council members, VIDC staff physician Dr. David Truong, our HCV Clinical Research Nurse and Research Manager Shawn Sharma, and our Regulatory Manager Syune Hakobyan were also invited to the meeting.

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To welcome the council members and Dr. Gregory Taylor, VIDC did what any Vancouver-based organization would — serve Sushi Rolls. These scrumptious ones were courtesy of Sushiville on Davie St.

July 23: Information Exchange on HIV and HCV Co-Infection with Healthcare Professionals from Australia

On July 23rd, we had the opportunity to have an information exchange with Healthcare Professionals from Australia to discuss HIV and HCV Co-Infection. Dr. Conway gave a presentation on what we know of HIV and HCV Co-Infection in Canada and how we are dealing with it. And then there was an open dialogue on the similarities and differences of the VIDC model with that applied to the situation in Australia.

IMG_0830One of our staff physicians, Dr. Alexandra King, also gave a very brief presentation on the status of HIV and HCV epidemic among Canada’s First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities, and what projects VIDC will be developing to address these issues.

Community Spotlight: Yashna Bhutani

The VIDC Team is growing!

The more people we reach, the more staff we need to continue to provide the same quality care to everyone. As such, we welcome our new HCV Clinical Research Nurse, Yashna Bhutani RN BSN.

Our new Clinical Research Nurse, Yashna Bhutani.
Our new Clinical Research Nurse, Yashna Bhutani.

To introduce her to all of you, we did a brief — but insightful — interview with her and here are excerpts from that interview.

Everyone, here is Yashna Bhutani.

Let’s start with a generic question, tell us about yourself.

Y:  I have been a science geek for as long as I can remember! What drives me each day is being able to learn new knowledge and keep challenging myself with a new task, goal or mission. I have always been extremely fascinated about learning and gaining more knowledge in various avenues and fields, whether it is an educational subject, or related to general knowledge in nutrition and fitness, or learning about the art of wine-making or the different styles of dances. I am especially passionate about health care; I feel that there’s never a dull day in the field of health care and science. Providing patient care and thriving to take on a leadership role in the health care system is what drives my passion.

After spending undergraduate years in UBC studying microbiology, immunology and psychology, I realized that the field of nursing would suit my interest in providing direct patient care, so I decided to pursue my BSc in Nursing at BCIT, which was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I have had the privilege to work in surgical and medical units at Richmond Hospital and the Acquired Brain Injury Unit at GF Strong Rehab Center, both of which have allowed me to gain a copious amount of knowledge and develop various strengths in the field of nursing.

I hope to continue persevering towards my aspirations in the field of health care and continue to tackle different challenges to reach new heights in my career and the health care field.

How did you first learn about VIDC? And what drew you to us?

Y: I had never heard about VIDC until I saw the job posting, but I couldn’t stop myself from learning more about this center after discovering it! What drew me  is their multidisciplinary and holistic approach to health care with a passionate team of health care professionals. I was captivated with their approach of non-judgmental patient care and research in such a balanced form in which both aspects are focused on but patient care takes utmost priority. The more I read about VIDC’s mission and initiatives, the more I visualized myself with the VIDC team and hoped to get the opportunity to contribute to their mission and advances in health care and research.

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Yashna all set -up for HIV and HCV Screening at our Community Pop-Up Clinic (CPC)

What aspect/s of your role at VIDC are you most excited about?

Y: My role at VIDC is of a Clinical Research Nurse, I will be closely working with clients for the treatment of Hepatitis C and HIV. I can’t begin to write what aspects of my role I am most excited about! There isn’t one aspect that I am any less excited about! This opportunity will allow me to further develop my nursing career to a whole new level, put me in the place to gain a lot of specialized knowledge about current and upcoming HCV and HIV studies, allow me to contribute to health care research and bring me one step closer to leading change as the health care field continues to grow with new discoveries in treatments and pharmaceuticals. Overall, it’s the journey of going from surgical nursing into clinical research nursing that I am most excited about.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to know the Yashna that’s not just a Clinical Research Nurse.

What’s the ONE thing you can’t without?

Y: I can’t live without education. I feel that there is so much in life that can be learned, and I wish that I could keep learning something new each day of my life.

THREE things most people don’t know about you.

Y:  1) I have a strong passion for dancing! I have gotten the chance to learn different forms of dances (Bollywood, Jazz, Salsa, Hip-Hop etc.), do various stage performances as well as choreograph dances.

2) I am terrified of honeybees and moths! I will jump out of my car in the middle of the highway or run off to the road into oncoming traffic to save myself from them. — That’s saying something because I really love my car! (Yes, I’m a car enthusiast too!)

3) I am an extremely indecisive shopper! Sometimes I am more indecisive after buying something than I am before buying it.

If you can only eat one meal, every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Y: Fruits! I can live without protein but I can’t live without fruits!

Do you have a motto or a personal mantra?

Y: Dream, Believe, and Receive

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Y: In my spare time, I love giving back to the community and supporting some of the causes I am most passionate about. Volunteering at the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and Canuck Place Hospice for Children is especially close to my heart and I like spending my spare time at these associations as much as possible.

Pet peeves?

Y: I can’t stand people being arrogant.

“Being humble means recognizing that we are not on Earth to see how important we can become, but to see how much difference we can make in the lives of others.” – Gordon B. Hinckley

Lastly, do you have any hidden talents?

Y: I write poetry! Due to my curiosity of interpreting poetry and its hidden metaphors, I began writing to express my inmost feelings. I experiment with various topics and forms such as: sonnet, ballad, lyric and free verse and incorporate them into my poetry portfolio.

Here’s an excerpt of a poem she’s written:

Immersed in melancholy, my tranquility and path have gone astray

Handcuffs bind my body, but the spirit marches ahead and away

Freedom seems as exotic as a stranger’s first steps on a new land

As a ray of light protrudes, I vision the changed world stand

As you can see, at VIDC we are made up of a team of interdisciplinary individuals with diverse backgrounds. This — again like everything else we do — is to further our commitment to providing community-based holistic care for our patients. We are very different individuals working towards one goal!

If you want to get to know her more, attend our Hepatitis C Treatment Support Group on Friday mornings!

VIDC Signs The Vancouver Consensus

Following the recently concluded IAS 2015 (international Aids Society Conference 2015) at the Vancouver Convention Centre last July 19-22, 2015, the Vancouver Consensus was created.

Here is a short excerpt from the Vancouver Consensus website:

In 1996 the global HIV community gathered in Vancouver to share evidence that triple-combination antiretroviral treatment held the power to stem the tide of deaths from AIDS.  The treatment era had begun. Today, as we gather again in Vancouver, we recognize a new transformative moment in the fight to end AIDS.

We call on leaders the world over to implement HIV science and commit to providing access to immediate HIV treatment to all people living with HIV. We call on donors and governments to use existing resources for maximum impact and to mobilize sufficient resources globally to support ARV access for all, UN 90/90/90 goals for testing, treatment and adherence, and a comprehensive HIV response. We call on clinicians to build models of care that move beyond the clinic to reach all who want and need ARVs. We call on civil society to mobilize in support of immediate rights-based access to treatment for all.

Science has delivered solutions. The question for the world is: When will we put it into practice?

VIDC is proud to be one of the signatories of the consensus!

On July 24, Dr. Brian Conway, President & Medical Director of VIDC, proudly signed the Vancouver Consensus and invites all those who care about access to HIV treatment for all those who would benefit from it to do the same.

In light of data presented at the recent 8th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment & Prevention, it is now evident that all HIV-infected patients will benefit from the initiation of antiretroviral therapy, regardless of their CD4 cell count. It must therefore be our goal to identify and offer treatment to all men and women living with HIV infection.  This is especially true of the most vulnerable and disenfranchised to whom we may offer care.  For them, engagement in the health care system, and the prospect of benefiting from this engagement, may also be a positive tool of social change.

-Dr. Brian Conway

To read more about the Vancouver Consensus, and to view a complete list of the signatories, click here.

Community Pop-Up Clinics (CPCs)

Community Pop-Up Clinic Poster
Our Community Pop-Up Clinic Poster

As part of our commitment to a holistic approach to medicine and to spreading awareness and education, we close our clinic doors (almost) every Friday afternoon. Yes, we stop clinic operations — or at least those that require the doctor to be present – to pursue our commitment!

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This is where you’ll find Dr. Brian Conway on Friday afternoons. No, he’s not moonlighting as a podiatrist!

On Friday afternoons, the VIDC team can be found on different locations in the Downtown East Side (DTES) holding our Community Pop-Up Clinic (CPC). We can be found at various drop-in centres, homeless shelters, and soup kitchens in and around the DTES. At these CPCs, we register anyone and everyone interested in getting tested for HIV and HCV. The goal of is to bring awareness and to engage patients who would otherwise not have access to diagnosis, treatment, and/or care.

The clinic is set up such that from the very beginning, engagement is the main goal. Our team of research assistants and coordinators are on the front line doing registration. We talk to anyone and everyone who shows interest and explain to them how the tests work, help them with registration, and direct them as necessary. Following that, our HCV Nurse, Yashna Bhutani, takes over. She sets up the clinic part of our CPCs. She will have her own room – or corner, whichever is available – and does the testing. We use OraQuick® Tests for HIV and HCV. Basically? Yashna just needs to swab the insides of their cheeks – no blood involved – and the results come out in about 10-15 minutes. The test checks for the presence of antibodies, your body’s response to infection. If the test comes out positive — which indicates that your body has fought or is fighting either HIV or HCV — then we recommend more thorough blood tests. (To find out more about how OraQuick® works, click here.)

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Yasha set up and ready for testing!

The final part of the process involves the revelation of the results. If anyone tests positive for either HIV or HCV, Dr. Brian Conway is right there to provide immediate specialist consultation. Additionally, our HCV Research Nurses, Shawn and Yashna, would also have counseling sessions with these patients. Often these patients are unaware of their infection — let alone the treatment options and care available for people dealing with Hepatitis C. This is why it is very important to have Dr. Conway, Shawn, and Yashna available at the site to provide counseling, support, and consultation for these people. Sometimes hearing the news — both the good and the bad — from someone well equipped to help is all they need to have hope and feel better.

Nurse Shawn Sharma counseling a patient who tested positive for HCV about treatment options and how HCV is not a death sentence anymore.
Nurse Shawn Sharma counseling a patient who tested positive for HCV about treatment options and how HCV is not a death sentence anymore.

The idea with the rapid tests is for individuals who do not need extensive (and sometimes expensive) blood work done to not have to do it. If the test for antibodies is negative, why else would you need further confirmatory tests? The hassle in getting a doctor to sign off on a lab requisition form, the trouble of going to the lab to get your blood drawn, the long wait at laboratories, and the agony of waiting for your results — these are the things we try to eliminate through our Community Pop-Up Clinics. Basically, our CPCs are geared towards lessening inconvenience, hassle, stress, and fear involved with getting tested – the goal is to make it as simple and accessible as possible to get as many people tested and engaged as possible.

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Our CPCs are sometimes known as Testing Fairs to the community (and even among the staff, actually).

The main goal of our CPCs: There is a problem, there is cure available, let’s get the word out and stop the spread of these diseases.

Our CPC was also recently featured on the 24hrs Vancouver Newspaper, click here to see the article.

Come Join Us for World Hepatitis Day

World Hep Day Flyer

The poster says it all! Come join us on July 31 (Friday) for a special Support Group session to mark World Hepatitis Day 2015.

July 28 is the official World Hepatitis Day when all around the world health care professional and organizations join together in bringing awareness to the dangers of this virus.

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With 400 million infected, and 4,000 people dying everyday of the virus, we need a lot more work in getting awareness and education about the virus out there.

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Our VIDC event on the World Hepatitis Day 2015 Events Page. Click on the photo to see what other events are happening worldwide!

To find out more about World Hepatitis Day 2015, click here. On their website, they have toolkits and materials you can use to spread the world locally. Infographics and posters are readily available for download — in various languages too. There is a lot you can do on their website, from posting a photo of yourself to show solidarity, to browsing events you can be part of worldwide!