Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network, and Hepatitis Services, BC Centre for Disease Control are partnering on the National Aboriginal Hepatitis C Awareness Campaign. They are working together to recognize the diversity and rights of Aboriginal Peoples regardless of residency, including the rights of Aboriginal Peoples to access and benefit from hepatitis C (HCV) prevention education and awareness, as well as related care, treatment and support to maintain a quality of life in a culturally appropriate manner.

National Aboriginal Hepatitis C Awareness Month is held annually from May 1 to May 31. This month is an opportunity to:

• Increase awareness and knowledge about hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS;
• Establish ongoing prevention and education programs in Aboriginal communities;
• Address common attitudes that may interfere with prevention, care and treatment activities; and
• Reduce hepatitis C and HIV /AIDS-related stigma and discrimination.

Hepatitis C is a major concern amongst Aboriginal people in Canada. Poor health, poverty, low education, limited housing, high unemployment, and sanitation problems are important factors that promote the spread of hepatitis C infections among Aboriginal people. Factors that increase the risk of hepatitis C infections include the regular use of injection drugs and involvement in other high-risk activities at an early age. Aboriginal prisoners in Canada’s jails may be at greater risk due to the high rates of infection among this population.

Six major cities will hold events this year (Ottawa, Halifax, Red Deer, Toronto, Vancouver and Regina) to raise awareness. Aboriginal communities across Canada are encouraged to raise organize an event in their communities.

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