Pubdate: Fri, 29 Jun 2001
Source: Guardian, The (Canada)
Copyright: 2001 The Guardian, Charlottetown Guardian Group Incorporated
Author: Chelle Browne



Congratulations to the P.E.I. Department of Health in finally addressing
the serious health risk of contracting Hepatitis C-HVC through injection
drug use on P.E.I.

Cocaine, prescription narcotics, speed and heroin are drugs injected by
IV drug users and a needle exchange program very well could be a
preventative measure to help stop the spread of the virus.

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus that infects and can seriously damage
the liver. People most at risk include those who got blood transfusions
before the onset of screening for the virus in 1990, as well as people
exposed to contaminated needles through tattooing, acupuncture, body
piercings, IV-injection drug use, some mass immunization programs and
health care workers.

Ten to 15 per cent of people infected with HVC-Hepatitis C simply don't
know the source of how they contracted the virus.

Hepatitis C is still a mystery virus. When first infected, many people
don't get sick or feel ill only for a short time, but the majority will
go on to develop Chronic Hepatitis C, which can lead to liver diseases
including cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Chronic Hep C symptoms include any or all of the following: chronic
fatigue /dysfunctional lassitude, jaundice, nausea, muscle and joint
pain, skin irritations, hair loss, impaired cognitive functioning and
poor quality of life.

Let's hope health workers, people infected with/affected by Hep C,
addiction workers, corrections officials, Aids P.E.I., Department of
Health, social workers, disability workers, etc. can come together on
P.E.I. to work in unity to provide education surrounding health
promotion and its benefit to people living with Hep C.

Chelle Browne, Bridgewater, N.S.,
retired board member, Hepatitis Outreach Society
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