P.E.I. is about to eradicate a deadly disease.
The province recently started providing patients with curative treatment for hepatitis virus C (HCV) at their first appointment instead of having to wait for blood test results and medication approval.
As a result, there has been a 50 per cent increase in the number of people starting treatment compared to the previous three months.
By making treatment for hepatitis C easily available to the approximately 1,000 Islanders diagnosed with the viral infection, P.E.I. is on track to be the first province in Canada to eliminate the disease five years ahead of Canadian and global targets, and ahead of its larger goal to eliminate HCV by 2025.
Since the province’s 10-year hepatitis C program was launched in 2015, 45 per cent of Islanders living with HCV have been treated.
Islanders can also self-refer to access hepatitis C testing and treatment by calling the hepatitis treatment centre with P.E.I.’s public health offices at 902-569-7642.
“As a clinician and researcher working locally and nationally with HCV patients, it is exciting to see the progress being made and that Prince Edward Island has really stepped-up to be a national leader in hepatitis C elimination,” said Dr. Lisa Barrett, HCV medical adviser to Health P.E.I.
“Treating many people quickly is essential to HCV elimination and the P.E.I. program promotes both easy and rapid care. Prevention, harm reduction programs, expanded hepatitis C testing and treatment are integral to hepatitis C elimination on the Island.”
Prince Edward Island is the first province to publicly fund a co-ordinated provincial program for HCV treatment and elimination.
“We are proud to be partnering with the Province of P.E.I. in its efforts to cure the Island of hepatitis C,” said Stéphane Lassignardie, general manager, AbbVie Canada. “Achieving elimination by 2025 is truly outstanding... We now need to focus our efforts on partnerships that will lead to screening, linkage to care, and ultimately curing patients.”