Hepatitis C an epidemic in Canada

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Hepatitis C is considered a silent killer within Canada, and health experts are calling it an epidemic.

During Monday's World Hepatitis Day, health care professionals and frontline service providers worked hard to get the message out regarding the disease.

Hepatitis C is transmitted through infected blood, and causes chronic liver disease. 

"It's a disease that effects more than 242,000 Canadians, and one in five who have hepatitis C are not aware that they have it," said Jim Pollock, director, communications and social marketing for CATIE, Canada's source for HIV and hepatitis C information. 

"It is an epidemic, and it's helpful if people are aware of the disease and that it can be addressed, and can seek a cure, but it requires early screening and early detection."

The disease is contracted when a person comes in contact with infected blood, either through injection drug use, medical procedures or not using sterile needles when getting a tattoo. 

"Hepatitis C is a disease that has been called a silent killer because you can be living with the disease for 10 to 20 years or more with no symptoms. Getting tested is the only way to know for sure if you have it," said Pollock. 

There is no vaccine for hepatitis C, however, in recent years treatment has come a long way becoming better and more effective. 

Testing for hepatitis C can be done at medical facilities, doctor offices, and other health units. For more information go to www.catie.ca. 

Geographic location: Canada

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