May Is Hepatitis Awareness Month In Canada
May provides an opportunity for Canadians to learn more about hepatitis and how to prevent it from spreading.
There are several different hepatitis viruses, but the most common types in Canada are hepatitis A, B, and C. All cause inflammation of the liver, and both the hepatitis B and C forms of viral hepatitis can lead to liver damage, liver cancer, and the need for liver transplantation.
Early diagnosis, with a simple blood test, can help to clear the virus, avoid damage to the liver, and prevent transmitting these viruses to others unknowingly. Awareness and knowledge are therefore critical to preventing the disease.
You can reduce the risk of hepatitis A by proper hand-washing before preparing and eating food. Hepatitis B and C can be spread through direct contact with infected blood and the risk can be reduced by not sharing items that may be contaminated. While no vaccine is currently available for hepatitis C, immunization is available for both hepatitis A and B.
Canada's New Government recognizes that hepatitis C is not a short-term problem. Our government has invested $10.6 million each year in the Hepatitis C Prevention, Support and Research Program.
As Canada's Minister of Health, I would like to thank all groups and individuals involved in the fight against hepatitis. Your work is invaluable to protecting the health of all Canadians.