On November 18th, the PHCN hosted Honourable Terry Lake, BC Minister of Health, and 15 other BC Government MLAs at a MLA’s luncheon in Victoria. Speeches were made about hepatitis C and the policy changes needed to ensure that more people in BC get tested, treated, and cured of hepatitis C.
Daryl Luster, PHCN Board President, described his experience with hepatitis C—beginning to feel ill, 3 years of tests and worsening symptoms, an ‘accidental’ hepatitis C diagnosis, and a fortunate clinical trial where Daryl, after a fairly debilitating round of new and old hep C treatments, cleared the virus. Daryl spoke of how he wanted to spare other hep C patients the experience of worsening symptoms and not being able to find help for far too long. He made a promise then to work hard to see changes that would make it easier for anyone with hepatitis C to get tested, treated, and cured.
Dr. Mel Krajden, Director of BC Hepatitis Services at the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), presented as well. Dr. Krajden spoke to the different groups of people with hep C—baby boomers, people who use injection drugs, immigrant populations, and aboriginal communities—and about how each group has specific needs. He said that while the Treatment as Prevention is a good approach for reaching and engaging people who are marginalized, other strategies are required. For instance, for baby boomers, he recommends a ‘Test, Triage, and Treat’ approach.
We spoke to the need for new treatments to be listed with PharmaCare with no unnecessary restrictions as soon as possible. We urged the government to seize the opportunity to be leaders in the fight to eradicate hepatitis C—a very real possibility.
Health Minister Lake spoke to the government’s commitment to addressing viral hepatitis and the ongoing negotiations with pharmaceutical companies for new drug prices. The Ministry of Health sees great value in the ‘Treatment as Prevention’ approach.
We hope that the government also sees that different populations have different needs and we want to be smart and strategic in how needs are met!
In addition, Daryl and Dr. Mel Krajden also met with political staff in Minister Lake’s office as well as with Ministry of Health staff in the Population and Public Health branch to discuss these same issues.
Stay tuned for more Hep C TIP Advocacy News!