Lhe cooperative is participating in a pan-Canadian hepatitis C “microelimination” project funded by the pharmaceutical company Gilead. Of the 11 Canadian clinics and organizations that participated in the program this year, SABSA did the best – that is, the one that succeeded in identifying the greatest number of people with hepatitis C in the inside a community in the country.
In just one year, psychosocial worker Simon Vermette, nurses Isabelle Têtu and Marie-Christine Leclerc, in collaboration with medical specialists and various community organizations in Quebec, have successfully identified more than 220 people infected with the virus. Of this number, 193 patients have started treatment, and, among them, 71 received services of accompaniment to medical appointments and support, according to data transmitted to the Sun.
“When we started in 2011, there was really a gap in the treatment and support for people with hepatitis C, who are mainly people who use injection drugs,” explains the SABSA coordinator. , Amélie Bédard.
About ten years ago, recalls Ms. Bédard, treatments for hepatitis C lasted over a year and were difficult for patients to bear. “There were a lot of side effects, it was almost like chemotherapy. Today, treatments are given over 12 weeks and patients have fewer side effects, ”she emphasizes.
It is estimated that 250,000 Canadians are living with the chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV), and that almost half (44%) would not be aware of their infection. In Quebec, between 40,000 and 75,000 people could be infected with HCV, according to the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec. People who are infected can live with the virus for several years before experiencing symptoms. Untreated, HCV can lead to very serious consequences, such as cirrhosis and, in some cases, liver cancer.
Today, treatments for the virus can provide a complete cure for the disease. “This is what we explain to our patients to convince them to follow the treatments, which they can cure. Obviously, they can reinfect themselves if they continue to use drugs by injection and to engage in risky behavior ”, hence the importance for the SABSA team to also teach, explains Amélie Bédard. .
According to the coordinator of the cooperative, if SABSA manages to treat so many patients with HCV, it is because it can count on indispensable allies in its community. “We are in the field, we have links with shelters and organizations such as PECH, Point de repères and PIPQ, and we work in close collaboration with a nurse and doctors, who can refer patients to us. It is by working on all fronts that we manage to reach and treat so many people, ”she emphasizes.
Ms. Bédard mentions that year after year, SABSA identifies and treats more and more people with hepatitis C. “I don’t know if it’s because there are more cases or because they are being identified more. , but we hope to get to the end of the list, ”she said.
In February, Le Soleil reported that the rue Saint-Vallier cooperative had also been participating since March 2018 in the PIHVOT program, a “sustained support” program for HIV patients. Of the fifty or so patients followed by the worker Marilyn Rochette, 95% adhere to their antiretroviral treatment as part of the project.