Many Canadians can now be cured of hepatitis C but more trained nurses and doctors are needed

World Hepatitis Day 2012 marks a year of achievements
and opportunities in Hep C management

TORONTO, July 23, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - On the eve of World Hepatitis Day (July 28), the Canadian Association of Hepatology Nurses (CAHN) takes stock of the strides made in the management of hepatitis C over the last year as well as the current and future challenges that treaters face.

"Today, we are able to cure most of the people we treat with chronic hepatitis C genotype infection," said Cheryl Dale, Hepatology Nurse Practitioner and President of CAHN. "What we need now is to add resources to increase treatment capacity so more Canadians diagnosed with hepatitis C can be treated and cured. There are not enough doctors and nurses in Canada with the specialized training and knowledge to treat and manage hepatitis C."

There are new breakthrough treatments that can cure more people with chronic hepatitis C than ever before and Canada's three most populous provinces are reimbursing these lifesaving medications. Last year at this time there was an approximate 40 to 50 per cent cure rate associated with the available standard of care in patients with genotype 1.1 This year, the cure rate associated with the newer three-drug regimen has increased significantly to approximately 70 to 80 per cent.

According to CASL guidelines, published in the Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology in June 2012, all patients with chronic hepatitis C should be considered candidates for these treatments (antiviral therapy). The guidelines also state that increased resources including training of expert treaters and public funding for treatment nurses are necessary.

"CAHN urges provincial governments to provide increased resources to keep pace with the achievements made to date in order to meet the current and future demands of the hepatitis C community," said Dale. "Hepatitis C treatment is intensive and can be very difficult for patients, so having access to more specialized nursing support is vital in ensuring that more individuals successfully get through it and are cured."

For more information on CAHN, visit their website at

CAHN acknowledges the support of Merck Canada.

About Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C, known as a "silent killer," is a serious and potentially fatal virus. It is the leading cause of liver transplants in Canada and if left untreated may lead to liver fibrosis, cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure, likely to be fatal without a transplant. It is estimated that nearly one per cent of the Canadian population, is currently infected with chronic hepatitis C, and 3,200 to 5,000 individuals are newly infected each year. Approximately 35 per cent of those infected with HCV are unaware of their infection and it is often not detected for many years until symptoms start to appear.