The hepatitis C virus (HCV) is an infectious virus that is carried in the blood and affects the liver. Left untreated, hepatitis C can lead to varying degrees of liver damage including liver cancer for which a transplant may be required, and even death.
Hepatitis C currently infects an estimated quarter of a million persons (250,000) in Canada, and an estimated 5,000 more people get infected every year mostly through injection drug use. However, the virus can also be spread during any situation where a person's blood comes in contact with the infected blood of another, including a medical or dental procedure or a skin-breaking ritual with contaminated equipment in a country with a high hepatitis C rate and/or where the blood supply is not tested for hepatitis C.
Approximately one-third of those infected with hepatitis C may not be aware of their infection.
In a first effort to reach out to recent immigrants from endemic
countries, Health Canada's Hepatitis C Prevention, Support and Research
Program has produced third language awareness/prevention brochures
and posters to reach out to the Arabic, Mandarin (simplified), Spanish
and Punjabi speaking communities. The brochures outline what the
hepatitis C virus is; ways the virus is spread and how it can be
avoided; possible symptoms of hepatitis C infection; and steps to
take if there has been possible exposure to the virus.