To celebrate World Hepatitis Day, UHN’s Viral Hepatitis Care Network (VIRCAN) distributed masks in downtown Toronto, and the CN Tower and Toronto Sign were lit in yellow and red, the colours used for hepatitis C awareness. (Photos: Courtesy VIRCAN)
The CN Tower and Toronto sign were lit in the colours used for hepatitis C awareness – red and yellow – to celebrate the day on July 28. VIRCAN teams distributed campaign masks along with educational materials about viral hepatitis in downtown Toronto, highlighting the importance of getting tested, especially during this pandemic.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, in the VIRCAN program alone, testing for hepatitis B and C has dropped a staggering 79 per cent.
“With all eyes on COVID-19, prevention, testing, and treatment for viral hepatitis has slowed dramatically,” says Dr. Harry Janssen, Executive Director for VIRCAN and UHN’s Toronto Centre for Liver Disease. “Also, screening for liver cancer in viral hepatitis patients has been seriously hampered and may well lead to a surge of patients with liver cancer in Canada and around the globe in the coming months.
“As we re-open, viral hepatitis prevention, screening, and treatment needs to be at the forefront of public health priorities in order to save lives and reduce unnecessary strain and costs on the healthcare system.”
Dr. Jordan Feld, VIRCAN’s Scientific Director, told CTV News in a story to mark World Hepatitis Day that “more people will die this year of hepatitis B and C, likely, than of COVID, around the world. And this is despite having a vaccine to prevent hepatitis B and treatment to cure hepatitis C, things that we do not have right now for COVID.”
Watch the full CTV News story to learn more about the campaign and the impact that screening and treatment can have in saving lives.