Category Archives: Health Resources

NALOXONE at VIDC

The Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre (VIDC) is now providing Take Home Naloxone Training for individuals using prescribed or diverted opioids. The training educates participants about basic overdose prevention, in addition to how to identify and respond to an opioid overdose, and administer naloxone when appropriate.

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One of our staff, Riley Flannagan, providing NALOXONE Take Home Training at our HCV Treatment Support Group.

What is Naloxone?

image2Naloxone, also commonly known as Narcan, is an antidote to an opioid overdose. An overdose of opioid drugs such as morphine, heroin, methadone, OxyContin can cause a person’s breathing to slow or stop. Naloxone is an injectable medication that can reverse this so the person can breathe normally and regain consciousness. Naloxone does not work for overdoses such as cocaine, ecstasy, GHB, or alcohol. However, if an overdose involves multiple substances including opioids, naloxone will help by temporarily taking the opioid out the equation.

Who is eligible to receive a Take Home Naloxone Kit?

An individual who has received the training, has a history of illicit opioid use, and a written prescription from a physician is eligible to receive a Take Home Naloxone Kit at no cost. Individuals who don’t use opioids, but know someone who does (eg. Support workers, peers of people who use opioids, family members) are not eligible to receive a kit. They are encouraged to attend the training to learn how to administer naloxone in an emergency situation and how to respond if naloxone isn’t readily available. Morbidity and mortality related to any kind of overdose is significantly reduced when the community has an increased awareness of how to mitigate risks, recognize, and respond appropriately in a timely manner.

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Our HCV Nurse, Shawn Sharma, participating in the practice exercise — how to administer injection.

We will be holding more training sessions in 2016, please stay tuned to hear about them. Or you can also subscribe to our e-newsletter to hear about it.

(Post by Riley Flannagan)

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Resources Update: Hepatitis C Resource Center Blog (AJM)

Our December Resources Update brings you Hepatitis C Resource Center Blog by the American Journal of Medicine.

If you’re looking to brush up on your hepatitis C knowledge and be updated on progress made in the medical research around the virus, then this resource is for you.

The American Journal of Medicine (AJM) Description: “The “Green Journal” publishes original clinical research of interest to physicians in internal medicine, both in academia and community-based practice. The American Journal of Medicine thyroid.amjmed.webedcafe.comis the official journal of the Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine, a prestigious group comprised of chairs of departments of internal medicine at more than 125 medical schools across the country. Each issue carries useful reviews as well as seminal articles of immediate interest to the practicing physician, including peer-reviewed, original scientific studies that have direct clinical significance, and position papers on health care issues, medical education, and public policy. The journal’s ISI factor – the international measure of cited manuscripts and scientific impact – is fourteenth in the world among all general medical journals.  The Editor-in-Chief is Joseph Alpert, MD. ” –  About Our Hepatitis C Blog

Hepatitis C Blog Description: “The goal of this global hepatitis C blog is to encourage communication and break down communication barriers so clinicians and their supportive care teams can effectively confront the challenges associated with screening, diagnosing, treating, and managing increasing numbers of individuals with hepatitis C. This blog is supported by Elsevier Multimedia Publishing and the American Journal of Medicine (AJM), and serves as a companion to their comprehensive, online, global educational initiative, the AJM Hepatitis C Resource Center (hepcresource.amjmed.com).” –  About Our Hepatitis C Blog

Capture2AJM Hepatitis C Resource Center Description: “The AJM Hepatitis C Resource Center provides both primary care providers and specialists with continually updated treatment guidelines, and an up-to-date repository of informative, freely-available, full-text articles to encourage effective HCV screening and diagnosis, and to highlight the promise of novel treatment regimens.”  –  About Our Hepatitis C Blog

 

 

 

bc211

One of the main issues with health care revolves around access — regardless of how state-of-the-art your services are, if the target population cannot access it, it is essentially useless. This is one of the reasons VIDC Connect exists, to help in engaging individuals by updating them on who we are and what we do. There is, however, an organization that’s taking this a step further: bc211.

According to their website:

bc211 is a Vancouver-based nonprofit organization that specializes in providing information and referral regarding community, government and social services in BC. Our help line services include 211, the Alcohol and Drug Information and Referral Service (ADIRS), the Problem Gambling Help Line, VictimLink BC, and the Youth Against Violence Line. (www.bc211.ca/about/)

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Basically, bc211 bridges the gap between service providers and individuals who need the services. Their main helpline, 2-1-1, is both a telephone and a texting service!

211 is a confidential, multilingual telephone and texting service available in Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley, Squamish-Lillooet and Sunshine Coast Regional Districts. 211 provides free information and referral to a full range of community, social, and government services, and operates twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. (WWW.BC211.CA/HELP-LINES/)

They also have a Twitter account that further facilitates the ease of connecting with them.

@bc211Help
@bc211Help on Twitter

And here’s our — Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre’s (VIDC’s) — listing on bc211.

 

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Click the photo or this link to see the listing.

Please help us spread this amazing resource as widely as possible. You, your friend, relative, coworker, classmate, professor, mentor, etc. might need it or know someone who does. Being able to access the appropriate services at the appropriate time could drastically alter an individual’s life.

Resources Update: hepc.bull

As part of the goal of VIDC and VIDC Connect to spread awareness and facilitate education, we try to provide and connect you with a number of educational health resources.

These are some newsletters, blogs, or organization websites that provide HCV educational materials, treatment information, news, and other innovations and noteworthy updates in the field of hepatitis C.

Our November Resources Update puts the spotlight on hepc.bull. If you’re looking for resources written, compiled, and distributed by community members directly infected and/or affected by Hepatitis C, then this resource is just what you need.

hepc.bull is the monthly newsletter sent by HepCBC – Hepatitis C Education and Prevention Society.

Organization Description: “HepCBC is a non-profit organization run by and for people infected and affected by hepatitis C. Our mission is to provide education, prevention, and support to those living with HCV.” – hepcbc.ca

Newsletter Description: “It contains the latest research results, government policy changes, activities and campaigns, articles by patients and caregivers, and a list of support groups plus other useful links.” – hepcbc.ca

Distribution: Free email newsletter and regular mail subscription (print)

Latest Version: November (full pdf)

 

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VIDC at Williams Lake write-up in the November 2015 issue of hepc.bull (Click on the photo or this link to see the full newsletter.)

FREE Webinars on HCV

In line with our goal of tackling  HCV through generating public awareness and promoting education, VIDC would like to share this amazing resource with all of you!

The Canadian Network on Hepatitis C (Réseau Canadien sur l’Hépatite C) — or CanHepC for short — is happy to inform you that their webinars for 2015-2016 are open to the public!

Yes, FREE WEBINARS ON HEPATITIS C related topics!

But what is CanHepC?

CanHepC is a collaborative network funded by CIHR (Canadian Institutes of Health Research) and PHAC (Public Health Agency of Canada) to establish a continuous pipeline from discovery to implementation to reduce HCV transmission, cure and improve the quality of life of persons infected with HCV, and to work towards the eradication of HCV infection in Canada.

Our overarching goal is to conduct innovative and interdisciplinary research, build research capacity, and translate evidence for uptake into practice and policy, to improve HCV prevention and health outcomes of Canadians and contribute to the global effort to reduce HCV burden worldwide. (About CanHepC)

The webinars cover a wide range of topics from Hepatitis C (HCV) statistics, patient care, all the way to research writing and patents. The wide selection is meant to cater to health care professionals and academics who are involved in HCV research, treatment, and patient care.

However, for the general public — HCV patients, friends/relatives of people with HCV, interested community groups, and even advocacy groups — there are a number of topics that could be very useful!

Here are some examples:

  • HCV in Aboriginal Communities (November 4)
  • Practical Nursing for HCV Patients (January 27, 2016)
  • Drug Use and Treatment: the Point of View of Real Patients (Feb 3)
  • Research/Patient Partnership (Feb 17)
  • The Federal Role in Hepatitis C (March 9)
  • HCV Prevention in Health Care System (March 23)

Simply head over to the website — here is the link again — and follow the instructions on how to register to attend one of these webinars. It’s that simple!

Better understanding of hepatitis C will help positively impact the fight against it in a lot of significant ways! Education helps dispel stigma, promote better health practices, and eventually affect the eradication of this disease.

If you, personally, won’t have time for the webinars — pass the information on!

Let’s talk about viruses

One of the biggest debates in modern microbiology revolves around this question: are viruses living organisms? As you might think, this isn’t quite a black and white question. In order for something to be classified as a living organism, it needs to be able to replicate on its own.

Viruses however, are incapable of this – they need a host cell to replicate and ‘live.’ Once inside a cell, a virus can then perform the same functions living cells can – like producing proteins, replicating, and protecting itself form danger.

A viral life cycle contains five different distinct phases: exposure, entry, replication, shedding, and latency.

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Generally, a viral infection occurs when a host (i.e. Human) is exposed to a virus. This can be through a physical breach (a cut in the skin), direct inoculation (unsafe needle injections) or direct infection of the surface (inhaling the virus into the lungs). Only after a virus enters the host, can it gain access to certain cells to infect.

Once a host has been exposed, the virus needs to enter the host’s cells; and when inside the cell, the virus hijacks the cell’s machinery to replicate. To get inside the cell, proteins on the viral surface connect with proteins on the cell surface which results in the creation of a pore. Using this pore, viruses enter the cell and begin making copies of itself.

Next, the virus takes control of the cell’s replication machinery and quickly begins making millions of copies of itself.

Once a virus has made enough copies and used up all of the resources inside a cell, shedding occurs. The cell is no longer useful for the virus, and so the cell dies and all the new viruses are released to now infect new cells.

Some special viruses, like HIV, have a latency period. During this time, the virus hides inside the cell and does not replicate in order to evade the host’s immune system. The virus waits, until the time is right to begin replication and start the infection.

As you can see, this question is a difficult one to answer. When you look at the viral life cycle, arguments can be made for both sides; but ultimately, regardless of whether viruses are classified as living or not, efforts should be placed on developing vaccines and treatments.

yourlanguage.hepcinfo.ca

One of the main barriers to ridding the world of hepatitis C is the lack of awareness and education. And one of the main barriers to widespread awareness, is language diversity.

This is where this resource comes in. yourlanguage.hepcinfo.ca is a resource page with different language options. The goal is to provide the same information in various languages.

The resource page is created and maintained by CATIE, Canada’s source for HIV and hepatitis C information. Following their commitment to providing HIV and HCV information to Canadians, CATIE recognizes the needs of a multicultural nation such as Canada.

The website has a very simple and easy to understand design. The language options are displayed on a banner at the very top of the page and a hyperlinked table of contents can be found on the left side for ease of access. Basically, as long as you can get to the website,  there is almost no reason for you to not get the information you need — if the language you speak is listed!

Currently, the website offers information in 12 languages — Arabic, Chinese (simplified), French, Spanish, English, Filipino (Tagalog), Bengali, Tamil, Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, and Vietnamese.

This is a great resource for interested individuals, health care providers, and even educators. If you know anyone who needs to understand hepatitis C but has very limited knowledge of English, this might be the resource you’ve been waiting for.

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yourlanguage.hepcinfo.ca displaying “What is Hepatitis C?” in Chinese (simplified).

VIDC on MyDavieVillage.com

We are proud to announce that the Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre (VIDC) is now affiliated with the MyDavieVillage.com online directory.

MyDavieVillage.com is website that seeks to

provide a resource base for Vancouver’s gay community and GLBT visitors to Vancouver …  a virtual Davie Village to complement our traditional West End “gaybourhood” and make it easier for all of Vancouver’s GLBT gay community to be engaged with our community.

As a medical and research clinic that emphasizes the need for a community-based holistic approach in providing care, we strongly support initiatives like MyDavieVillage that endeavors to bring the community together.

This is especially significant as the GLBT Community that MyDavieVillage.com seeks to bring together, is one of the communities at a higher risk for HCV and HIV. Being visibly accessible to the community through this directory means VIDC can reach a wider audience in raising awareness and providing care.

Here are some screenshots from their website:

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Medical Resources landing page
mdv VIDC online write-up
Short blurb about VIDC on the desktop version of the website.

The website is also mobile friendly, making it easy to access the resources while on the go.

MyDavieVillage.com mobile website screenshot
MyDavieVillage.com mobile website screenshot
Medical Resources landing page (with VIDC blurb) on the mobile-friendly webpage.
Medical Resources landing page (with VIDC blurb) on the mobile-friendly webpage.

Psychologist Bill Coleman PhD At VIDC

For our Hep C Support Group last Friday, June 26, we had Clinical Psychologist, Bill Coleman PhD, come and facilitate our meeting.

Dr. Coleman has been a counselor for 25 years and has been working extensively in a sexually transmitted clinic for over 10 years. His experience with individuals dealing with sexuality, addiction, and incarceration issues has made him a very valuable partner of VIDC. Every couple of months, Dr. Coleman would come facilitate one of our Hep C Support Group meetings and have a little bit of a group counseling session with us.

Last week the topic was values, or inner spirit as some might call it; or basically, who we are independent of our actions — because sometimes our actions are caused by our circumstances not really by who we truly are inside. Dr. Coleman broke down what our values are comprised of into three main components: how we see ourselves, how we see others, and how we see the world.

It was a very informative and interactive meeting where attendees were able to express their thoughts and feelings about who they think they are.

To close the session, Dr. Coleman directed us to the Barrett Values Centre website where we could get a free personal values assessment. Some of us had our results printed and we were able to sit down and discuss with Dr. Coleman, over lunch, what the results meant and how we should use this information.

Defining who we are is a struggle everyone has to deal with, a struggle that becomes harder to overcome when disease/illness and life circumstances get in the way. Our goal last week was to remind everyone that our situations do not define who we are. As part of our commitment to holistic care, this was a necessary session to encourage our patients to not let the disease and the illness take over their lives.

We love having Dr. Coleman over not just for his insights, but also because he is a health care professional that is very dedicated to his clients. His office is less than a minute’s walk away from our clinic, and he provides affordable counseling for those who need it. Find out more about him and his practice on his website.

Drug Interactions Cheat Sheets

Last Friday, June 19, we had one of our Lunch Talks at the clinic. Our very own Dr. Brian Conway gave a mini-lecture over lunch — sponsored by Merck — on drug interactions.

Bottom line: Be aware of what you’re taking!

The talk was very informative and quite extensive for the amount of time we had, and typing up all that information would be too much for a blog post! Fortunately, Dr. Conway gave us a shortcut to all that knowledge: The University of Liverpool’s Drug Interaction websites!

There’s the http://www.hiv-druginteractions.org/ for HIV drugs and http://www.hep-druginteractions.org/ for HCV (Hep C) drugs.

Basically, the site allows for public access of PDF charts detailing which drugs have interactions with each other and whether or not these interactions are negligible or deadly.  It has a very easy-to-understand scheme: interactions labeled in GREEN are drugs you can take together, YELLOW are drugs you want to take with caution, and RED labeled drug interactions are just NO. And for people interested in why the labels are colored as such, the site also has an area detailing the information behind the specific labels.

The sites are very informative and user-friendly. And also quite comprehensive — from Ibuprofen to Cocaine to other antivirals!

Here are some screenshots:

HIV Drug Interaction Screenshot
List of printable charts you can access through hiv-druginteractions.org
Recreational Drugs and HIV Meds
An example of what a printable chart looks like. Labels are colored for easy scanning, and symbols are used to give more information about the specific interactions.
HCV Chart Example
An example from hep-druginteractions.org. Different symbols, same color scheme — green, yellow, and red.

They also produced (free) apps!

These are available in both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. Click on the photos below for the Apple App Store. Or search for HEP iChart and HIV iChart for the HCV and the HIV drug interactions app respectively.

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Inside the HCV App
HIV App
HIV App

You start by selecting the HIV or HCV drug you’re interested in and then select the other drug (cough medicine, pain medication, recreational drugs, alcohol, etc.) you want to check and voila!

Just like the charts, if it's safe, the label is green.
Just like the charts, if it’s safe, the label is green.
Yellow if co-administration can be done with caution.
Yellow if co-administration should be done with caution.
Red if the interactions have adverse effects on the person.
Red if the interactions have adverse effects and co-administration should not be done.

This is an amazing resource for individuals living with HIV or HCV (Hep C), the health care professionals working with them, and family and community members that want to look out for them. A convenient cheat sheet in the palm of your hand — or on your wall if you choose to print the charts out.

HOWEVER, these apps and charts do not replace your doctor’s orders. Always run things by your doctor if you’re unsure of the medications you’re taking.