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.)
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Community Spotlight: Brody Williams

This month’s community spotlight is, as always, a little bit different.

One of our beloved friends at VIDC, Brody Williams, recently appeared on Global News as a success story — Brody has finally won the battle against hepatitis C after six (6) different treatments!

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Brody Williams telling John Daly of Global News how he feels about the news Dr. Conway delivered. (Click on the photo to watch the video, or click on this link.)

Brody’s story is filled with a lot of ups and downs. He’s been struggling with the disease, the illness, the effects of the medications, the stress and financial burden of the disease and treatment, etc. This interview is Brody’s way of waving his flag at the top of a mountain after all the hardships he had to deal with to reach the summit!

At the end of the video, Dr. Conway says to Brody:

“… we’ll pick up the ball from here. We will help the people you want us to help.”

After everything he’s been through, Brody is determined to help others out. He’s been very passionate in attending and providing insight and support to other patients at our HCV Treatment Support Group.

Now that he’s officially cured, he is all the more determined to help others succeed in their battle against HCV. He’s currently still very actively engaged in our HCV Treatment Support Group and is looking into other avenues to better help other out.

The article on the Global News website also tackles one of the biggest issues facing HCV Patients — treatment cost.  Click on this link to read more about it.

Brody, we look forward to continue working with you in bettering the HCV situation in Vancouver — and in Canada!

Red Ribbons 4 Life!

The Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre (VIDC) and the Empire of the Peace Arch Monarchist Association (Imperial Sovereign Court of Surrey) together with Lookout Emergency Aid Society (formerly KEYS Housing & Health Solutions) invite you to the 8th Annual Red Ribbons For Life (RR4L).

RR4L PostCard JPEG

This event was founded in 2008 by Martin Rooney as a part of the campaign to remove the US HIV Travel Ban. Proceeds have surpassed $35,000 since its inception and have benefitted two worthy organizations — primarily the Surrey HIV Food Bank (operated by Lookout) and AIDS Tijuana (Traux House), a clinic in Tijuana Mexico operating with funds raised through the International Court System and the Imperial Court de San Diego California.

Red Ribbons 4 Life has now become the largest single, one-night benefit for AIDS in the lower mainland outside the city of Vancouver!

It will definitely be a night to remember with breath-taking performances, an informative keynote address, an AIDS Memorial ceremony, silent and live auctions, and raffle draws — all while raising funds and awareness for the on-going battle with HIV!

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(PC: Emma Briones) Dr. Brian Conway MD FRCPC is following-up on his popular addresses at the last two years’ events this year for RR4L 8!

VIDC’s President and Medical Director, Dr. Brian Conway, will be giving the keynote address at the event.

World renowned Live Female Impersonator, Bobby Drake, is the headline performer for the celebration. A number of amazing local talent — Miz Adrien, Jennifer Geddes, Kiki LaWhore, Robin Loveless, and more — will also be gracing the stage with their performances!

We invite you to join us in making this event successful!

Details of the event are as follows:

Red Ribbons 4 Life 8th Annual Campaign

When: Sunday (November 29) 6-10PM
Where: The Columbia Theatre (530 Columbia St. New Westminster BC)
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Brian Conway MD FRCPC
Tickets: $25CAD*
Tickets can be purchased from the website.
*Early bird rate until November 15, 2015. Regular price would be: $35CAD
**A cash bar and food menu will be available

If you have any questions about the event, or issues concerning ticket purchase, contact: rr4life@shaw.ca

We hope to see you there!

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!

VIDC September Multicultural Highlights

Last week VIDC had the opportunity to get involved with two momentous community-focused events by S.U.C.C.E.S.S. and RésoSanté Colombie-Britannique.

Health Fair 2015

SUCCESS HF Banner

On September 20, 2015 VIDC partnered with S.U.C.C.E.S.S. and had a Community Pop-Up Clinic (CPC) set up at their annual health fair. At the fair, we tested over 100 people for hepatitis C. And even provided FibroScan® options for those who tested positive, or who self-report being previously diagnosed with hepatitis B. We provided services in Mandarin, Cantonese, and English to ensure that information is being delivered efficiently.

RésoSanté Directory Launch

ResoSante Logo

On September 22, 2015 RésoSanté launched their directory of health care professionals that can provide services in French. This year was a momentous event for them as their directory now has 1000 health care professionals in BC that cater to the Francophone community — and of course, VIDC is on the list! (If you don’t know, our President and Medical Director, Dr. Brian Conway, is a Francophone!) At the launch, Dr. Brian Conway was invited to speak on the importance of receiving health care in your own language.

The importance of this directory of French-speaking health care professionals cannot be underestimated. The best health care is provided in the best way possible at the time that it is first requested. One component of this excellence is to provide it in the right language. – Dr. Brian Conway

VIDC’s involvement in these events are the first steps we are taking into pursuing our commitment to providing a community-based holistic approach to treatment. Dr. Conway’s statement rings true regardless of what language or culture is in question — health is one of the few fundamental things that one should have access to, and this access should be facilitated through the right medium.

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.

CBC Radio On The Coast interview with Dr. Brian Conway

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Click on the photo to listen to the broadcast. Stephen Quinn’s interview with Dr. Conway starts on 1:40:20.

Last Thursday (September 10) our President and Medical Director, Dr. Brian Conway, was on the CBC Radio show On The Coast as the Hepatitis C Expert.

The interview was a response to the recently published study from UBC with shocking results concerning Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES) residents.

 

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UBC News article on the study.

According to the study, DTES residents are dying at a much higher rate compared to the national average, and not due to HIV/AIDS or substance overdose.

“We were somewhat surprised because most people thinking about the Downtown Eastside think about HIV/AIDS or the possibility of overdosing on opioids like heroin,” said Dr. William Honer, professor and head of UBC’s Department of Psychiatry and co-author of the study. “Our system is not doing as well in getting treatments out there for psychosis and hepatitis C in this group, and it’s interesting that those two illnesses are causing risk for early mortality.

— UBC News

Dr. Conway came on the show to speak on these findings — findings that, as VIDC’s President and Medical Director, does not surprise him. These results, as he mentions on the interview, parallels what we see when on our regular visits to the DTES for our Community Pop-Up Clinics (CPCs). The surprise that came with the results confirm one more important reality: there still isn’t enough awareness about hepatitis C.

According to Dr. Conway, the prevalence of HCV in the DTES community is because of a number of things. However, the main factors are: prevalence of injection-drug use, lack of awareness and education about the cure available for HCV, and the social situation of the residents. Not only is a very vulnerable population not aware of the disease and its cure, most of them have difficulty even accessing basic health care. It also does not help that HCV is asymptomatic (does not show symptoms) until about 20-25 years after infection.

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We have Community Pop-Up Clinics at various locations in the DTES to provide point-of-care testing for HIV and HCV.

This is one of main driving forces behind VIDC’s CPCs and the health-care model that we have at VIDC. By heading out into the community, we promote awareness and education while making health care a lot more accessible to the community members. Also, at VIDC, we understand that often treatment for a disease that is asymptomatic is the last thing on their minds. Why would they seek treatment when they are worried about where they can spend the weekend and how they will eat for the next couple of weeks? This is why our patient care takes all these into considerations. Often our nurses, research coordinators, clinic staff, and physicians would help patients with their housing application, or contact shelters and soup kitchens for them — all these on top of getting them started on treatment, applying for treatment fundings, and providing general health care.

To find out more about this, here a couple of very useful links:

Community Spotlight: Bradford McIntyre

This month’s community spotlight sheds light on an issue that’s worth celebrating yet heartbreaking. Bradford McIntyre — more commonly known as Brad to us at VIDC — is a friend of VIDC who has successfully outlived the 6-months-to-live diagnosis he was given in 1984.

Brad was recently featured in an article by the Vancouver Courier entitled “Living longer with HIV.” He was the prime example of how the field of HIV is rapidly changing. Not too long ago, being diagnosed with HIV was considered a death sentence; now, because of the new treatments available, people like Brad are living well into their sixties.

“New research from the Canadian Observational Cohort Collaboration found the average life expectancy for HIV-positive people receiving antiretroviral therapy is now 65. ” Vancouver Courier (19 Aug 2015)

This is great news! This means we are slowly but surely making great progress in our fight against HIV. However, this also spotlights a new issue: an aging HIV-positive population.

“McIntyre has been a longtime advocate for HIV/AIDS awareness and started his website positivelypositive.ca in 2003 to share his story and the latest research. He has a good life and enjoys cooking, gardening and spending time at the beach. But he says aging with the virus comes with its own unique set of challenges. These include health, emotional, financial and social effects. ” Vancouver Courier

Because of the advancements in the field of HIV research, people who were expecting to die at a young age, are now given a new hope — a new hope with a new challenge. That means there is a growing population of more senior individuals living with HIV.

The challenge, however, is not just on the individuals who are now given a shot at a longer (and ideally, a more fruitful) life. Society, at large, is also faced with a new challenge. Because an aging HIV population is a fairly recent phenomenon, our society has yet to catch up with services and infrastructures — and especially  the knowledge — to care for and support this growing population.  Most importantly, the stigma and discrimination that comes with the virus, is ever so present.

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Brad’s photo on the Vancouver Courier website.

This is the new reality that Brad — along with the rest of society — has to face.  All the more reason for Brad to keep doing what he does!

As mentioned earlier, Brad has a blog called positivelypositive.ca where his primarily goal is to promote HIV/AIDS awareness and education.

“I receive thousands of emails from around the world,” says McIntyre. “Oftentimes there’s an individual that has just found out they’re positive and is thinking the worst. Then they find my website and see that I’ve lived all these years and I’m married and it gives them hope.” – -Vancouver Courier

Brad turned a death-sentence into a mission. His website provides information, resources, and — most importantly — hope. Resources like positivelypositive.ca are constant reminders that although stigma and discrimination that come with HIV is very real, there is hope of dispelling them through education and awareness.

To find out more about the work that Brad is involved with — did you know that he is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for excellence in the field of HIV/AIDS in Canada? — visit his blog: positivelypositive.ca!

It is because of amazing individuals like Brad that we are encouraged to keep doing what we’re doing. People like him remind us that there is hope, and that there are more and more people getting involved with promoting HIV/AIDS awareness, research, education, prevention, etc!

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 at the PRIDE FESTIVAL 2015

It’s been a long time coming, but here it is — updates (and of course, PHOTOS) from PRIDE FESTIVAL 2015

As previously mentioned, VIDC is proud to have been part of this year’s PRIDE FESTIVAL. We’ve been in the community for so long, it was only a matter of time before this happened — and now is the time!

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The VIDC Information Booth set-up — with flyers, pamphlets, booklets, wristbands, and a glimpse of what we had for breakfast that day!

PRIDE is a time to celebrate acceptance and to stand up against discrimination — and since HCV and HIV/AIDS do not discriminate, we wanted to be present at the festival to promote awareness about these diseases and the treatments available.

It was a very interesting and informative day for us as we got to see other organizations who support PRIDE, the initiatives they are involved with, and the health programs they have for the community.  It was a great reminder that although HIV and HCV are negatively affecting a lot of people, there are also a lot of people working together to help those affected.

Our research assistants Ghazal and Dr. Sahand Vafadary posing for a photo before the festival opens.
Our research assistants Ghazal and Dr. Sahand Vafadary posing for a photo before the festival opened.

It was also very encouraging how receptive people were to the information. Festival goers were generally very inquisitive, and it was our great pleasure and delight to educate them about the diseases (HIV and HCV) and the treatments available.

One of our research coordinators and nurses, Candice, was handing out Hepatitis C Information Booklets and answering questions about testing and treatment options for Hepatitis C.
One of our research coordinators, Nurse Candice Tan, handing out Hepatitis C Information Booklets and answering questions about testing and treatment options for Hepatitis C with a huge smile!

We focused mainly on providing information on Hepatitis C. Why? Because we feel like the awareness of HCV isn’t as widespread as HIV; also, at PRIDE, there were a number of organizations with information booths spreading awareness for HIV already. We tried to fill in the gap where we saw fit. Hepatitis C is a serious disease, and we want people to know that they should get tested and that treatments are available!

Here is our Communications Assistant, Ivan, and volunteer, Marianne, handing out condoms, booklets, and bookmarks while telling people to “Be safe and get tested!” (The people in the back were on their lunch breaks.)

The VIDC team had different shifts in staffing the booth. We wanted to make sure we got the chance to enjoy the festival while also ensuring that we always had a medical professional to address people’s questions and concerns. We had all three of our nurses, a couple of our research coordinators, assistants, and volunteers present on-site at various times of the day — all ready and equipped to spread the good word that HCV is now curable and people should get tested.

Research Assistant, Riley, and our HCV Nurse, Yashna rocking the VIDC shirts -- not everyone can make them work.
Research Assistant, Riley, and our HCV Nurse, Yashna rocking the VIDC shirts — they’re one of the blessed ones who can make those shirts work!

We clearly had a lot of fun at! And we look forward to being a part of the PRIDE FESTIVAL again next year. Who knows, maybe we’ll have a float for the PARADE too!

Our volunteer, Marianne, embodying our main message for the day: Be safe! Get Tested!
Our volunteer, Marianne, embodying our main message for the day by giving out HCV information AND condoms — Be safe! Get Tested! (Yes, that’s Nurse Shawn Sharma in the background.)