NWAC – World Hepatitis Day

Ottawa, ON (July 26, 2013) – Observed on July 28th every year, Hepatitis Day aims to raise global awareness of hepatitis B and hepatitis C and encourage awareness, prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is greatly concerned that Hepatitis C virus  (HCV) infections are not equally distributed among the Canadian population. A report from the EHSSS, Enhanced Hepatitis Strain Surveillance System (Public Health Agency of Canada) suggests that Aboriginal people in Canada carry a higher burden of infection compared to that of the general population. The data, released in 2008, in fact reports that the rate of HCV was almost five times higher among Aboriginal people compared to other Canadians, and the prevalence of HCV was two times higher among Aboriginal street-involved youth compared to their counterparts of other ethnicities.

Aboriginal people are at increased risk of contracting HCV due to factors leading to risky behaviors such as the impacts of intergenerational and childhood trauma, self esteem issues, isolation and exclusion, high incarceration rates, mental health issues and poor access to health services.

Demographic and social factors associated with higher rates of HCV also include being female, intervenous drug use, body piercing or tattooing, having a history of violence and abuse, working in the sex trade, time spent in jail or detention centers, and having more than one sexual partner.

“NWAC is currently working to promote economic and entrepreneurship opportunities for our women – opportunities that cannot be fully taken advantage of by women who are dealing with  debilitating health conditions like HIV and AIDS or HCV,” NWAC President is quoted as saying in response to the EHSSS’s research report and World Hepatitis Day. “NWAC is committed to ensuring all Aboriginal women and girls are included in Canada’s economic development plan, which means that we must do more to raise awareness.”
NWAC’s contribution to increasing awareness and promoting prevention of HIV, AIDS and Hepatitis C has been through the development and piloting of an HIV/Hep C prevention toolkit entitled TIPI Dreams: Transforming Indigenous Power Inside Out.

TIPI Dreams is being developed with support from the Public Health Agency of Canada and in collaboration with health and other service delivery agencies, and is intended to assist in planning and delivering community awareness sessions with Aboriginal women and girls who are at-risk to contracting these diseases. The toolkit contains a facilitator’s guide with instructions, activities and an educational video. A Francophone version of the toolkit is currently under development.
The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) works to advance the well-being of Aboriginal women and girls, as well as their families and communities through activism, policy analysis and advocacy. NWAC was incorporated in 1974 and is one of the five officially recognized National Aboriginal Organizations (NAOs) whose purpose is to represent and speak, at the national level, on behalf of Aboriginal women in Canada.

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For additional information please contact:
Claudette Dumont-Smith
NWAC Executive Director
Toll free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033 x. 223
Email: [email protected]

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