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Hepatitis C "three, four times higher" than the average in Thunder Bay, says a local healthcare provider



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Thunder Bay Healthcare Group, Ont., Is gathering this week to offer free Hepatitis C Projections as part of the annual awareness campaign.

"The Thunder Bay region has rates of hepatitis C, which are three to four times higher than the average of the countries," said the director of community education and development at Elevate N.W.O, Tonya Muchano. "It is estimated that around 2,600 people live roughly in this region with hepatitis C."

She said that hepatitis C is a "very slow progression infection" and many people can live from 20 to 30 years without any symptoms.

The most common misconception about hepatitis C is the method of transmission of the disease.

"It is only transmitted through blood to the blood. No other body fluid can tolerate hepatitis C," she said, adding that many people are not aware of the treatment methods that can help treat the disease in about 12 weeks.

Symptoms of advanced hepatitis C may be similar to the symptoms of liver injury or liver cancer, which is why it is difficult to diagnose the disease if not tested.

Muchano recommends that people exposed to hepatitis C be tested every three months with all local health professionals in the city.

"If somebody … deals with behavior that would endanger them or activities that would be endangered by hepatitis C, it's really good to have a regular test," explained Muchano.

As part of the annual awareness campaign, free projections will be available on Wednesday and Thursday for the community. (Christina Jung / CBC)

Hepatitis C can most easily be transmitted by sharing needles or any drug use equipment, but there are other ways of infection.

"There are many other risk factors where people might come into contact with hepatitis C, this does not necessarily mean that a person who uses drugs. In the 1980s, they may have received blood transfusion, perhaps sharing a razor or nail to clip with someone who had hepatitis C and he got it, "she said.

As part of the annual global hepatitis day on July 28, Muchano will say that a 20-minute "quick test" will also be offered free of charge in Liverpool, northwest of Oliver Street, on Wednesday and Thursday during a joint BBQ.

"It does not need full blood to bring someone out of the vessel, only a finger is needed."

You can find a list of other events this week on the Thunder Bay District health website.

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