Through Pauktuutit’s sexual health work it became evident that there is also a need to raise awareness about hepatitis C among Inuit. Hepatitis C is a blood borne virus; it can sometimes be passed on through unprotected sex but is not the only risk factor. Injection drug use, sharing personal hygiene items and home-made tattoos are other common risk factors. Inuit communities require significant amount of culturally relevant information of risks and factors in the area of blood borne infections. Research suggests that the pattern of infections and the various factors that place Inuit at risk are different from other Canadians and therefore hepatitis C prevention and health promotion should be different as well. For example, sharing is an Inuit value and practice so there is a need to explain the hazards of sharing things like tooth brushes and razors which could have infected blood on them. Pauktuutit’s efforts to address hepatitis C among Inuit have been based on the logical and progressive development and implementation of highly successful prevention and education activities, which are guided and informed by Inuit and other experts in the field. The hepatitis C program is guided by the Canadian Inuit HIV/AIDS Network.
Pauktuutit has engaged in hepatitis C projects to address issues of health disparities, cultural relevancy, health knowledge and resources in relation to hepatitis C. Current programming builds on the successful outcomes of the 2009/10 National Inuit Sexual Health Policy Forum and a series of focus groups carried out in 2009, 2011 and 2015 to capture Inuit knowledge, attitudes and behaviours towards hepatitis C.
Forum and focus group participants have repeatedly identify the need for hepatitis C intervention by and for Inuit. Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada provides leading edge information on prevention, education and community mobilization. Pauktuutit has provided Inuit communities with information fact sheets, program delivery and resource manuals to be used by front line workers, and videos and posters for the general public. There was a successful Role Models Campaign where community members lent their voice to discuss hepatitis C. Pauktuutit has recently produced a brochure on tattooing and piercing, a poster on getting tested and series of short videos to provide culturally relevant hepatitis C information on getting tested, tattooing and piercing, and sharing personal hygiene items.
Currently, Pauktuutit is undertaking the following project(s) on hepatitis C:
- Tukisiviit – Sexual Health Project, funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada
- Public Health Agency of Canada
- Hepatitis Education Canada
- Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network