Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). It is a complex disease to prevent, monitor and treat, and presently there is no vaccine for HCV. Public awareness about HCV is lacking and stigma surrounds the disease in a climate where little public knowledge about transmission and prevention exists. In Canada an estimated 250,000 people are currently infected with HCV and one third of those with HCV do not know they have it. HCV is transmitted through blood to blood contact with infected individuals. Such contact most often occurs in the following situations: sharing of any blood contaminated equipment including those used for drug injection/snorting/smoking, and any equipment used for piercing, tattooing, nail care, electrolysis, shaving, acupuncture; receiving blood or blood products where HCV is present; sexual activities where blood is present; needle stick injuries and vertical transmission (during childbirth). “To avoid HCV infection, people must be aware of HCV and its routes of transmission; however, their ability to translate that knowledge into practice is strongly related to environmental and social factors (also known as determinants of health). Presently, injection drug use constitutes nearly two-thirds of new HCV infections; consequently prevention strategies from a harm reduction perspective are being and have been introduced to reduce the spread of HCV among the target population of people who use drugs.
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The Canadian Observatory on Homelessness is the largest national research institute devoted to homelessness in Canada. The COH is the curator of the Homeless Hub.Canadian Observatory on Homelessness