Hepatitis C is a major concern amongst Indigenous 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 Indigenous 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. Indigenous prisoners in Canada’s jails may be at greater risk due to the high rates of infection among this population.
Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the Hepatitis C virus (HCV). The virus spreads through contact with blood. Over time and without treatment, HCV can damage the liver and cause liver cancer. HCV is curable.
How common is HCV?
In 2016, the rate of newly diagnosed HCV was three times higher in First Nations living on reserve than the overall Canadian population (The Public Health Agency of Canada and Indigenous Services Canada data, 2016).
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