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.
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
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!
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.)
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.
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.
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.
On June 1st the VIDC team, headed by Dr. Alexandra King and our HCV Nurse, Shawn Sharma, went up to Williams Lake to hold a Hepatitis C clinic for the community. Dr. King has been regularly holding clinics in the community for awhile now, and when she became part of VIDC, VIDC had the privilege to be part of this community initiative!
As reported in the Williams Lake Tribune article, the VIDC team will be visiting the community every month — and a few days ago, we brought great news! Along with Dr. King, Shawn, and our FibroScan® machine, our team brought something extra on this trip: a month’s worth of HEP C medication.
The biggest hurdle to getting started on HCV Treatment is getting access to the treatment, and at VIDC we help patients with the necessary paperwork to get them through that hurdle. That one month’s worth of medication for one patient is a great milestone for VIDC’s partnership with Williams Lake. Slowly but surely we are setting things in place to make treatment more accessible to the community.
In the coming months, VIDC is also planning to extend our reach to the neighboring communities. We are looking forward to holding pop-up clinics and HCV/HIV testing fairs in the neighboring communities in the very near future.