ANKORS hosting event to mark World Hepatitis Day

To mark World Hepatitis Day on Tuesday, ANKORS West is hosting an information table on Baker St.

To mark World Hepatitis Day on Tuesday, ANKORS West (AIDS Network Kootenay Outreach and Support Society) is hosting an information table on Baker St.

This will be one among many events taking place across Canada and the world to raise awareness about viral hepatitis, and details about testing, prevention and treatment.

ANKORS West wants to make people aware that hepatitis is an issue in the West Kootenay and that most people do not have enough information about the disease.

Worldwide, 400 million people are living with hepatitis B or C and approximately 80,000 British Columbians. Over 330,000 Canadians have the blood borne virus. Baby boomers, or people born between 1945 and 1965, are particularly at risk for hep C infection — over 75 per cent of British Columbians who have HCV belong to the baby boomer generation.

ANKORS’ World Hepatitis Day event starts at 10 a.m. in the amenity area on Baker St. outside CIBC. Lucky Cupcakes will be available to munch on for free

Liver disease, liver cancer, and deaths from hepatitis C are on the rise.

Hepatitis C, the most common strain of the illness, is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus. Some people are able to clear the virus from their body early on in infection; however, in about three-quarters of people, the infection becomes chronic. Chronic infection can lead to severe liver damage (cirrhosis), liver cancer and liver failure (which requires a liver transplant). There are treatments for hepatitis C, but no vaccine exists to prevent infection.

At the end of 2011, an estimated one out of every 100 Canadians was antibody positive for hepatitis C, indicating either a current or past infection.

In one study, 70 per cent of the about 138,600 Canadians infected with hepatitis C based on blood tests did not know they had the virus, according to Statistics Canada.

Hepatitis C is transmitted when the blood of someone carrying the virus gets into the bloodstream of an uninfected person. This can happen through unsafe medical practices or unsafe drug use. For many people, treatments are available that can cure hepatitis C and prevent liver damage, cirrhosis, and even liver cancer. The importance of getting tested is one of the key points World Hepatitis Day is trying to make.

Contact ANKORS at 250-505-5506 for more information on HCV and getting tested.

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