Hepatitis C Care for British Columbia sign now

May 4, 2009

Premier Gordon Campbell
PO BOX 9041 STN PROV GOVT
Victoria, BC V8W 9E1
E-mail: [email protected]

Dear Mr. Campbell:

As a victim of tainted blood, I am writing to you on behalf of myself and fellow advocates to urge you and your government to add Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) awareness and support to your campaign and to revisit where the funds allocated to HCV are actually being spent.

We are cognizant that HCV awareness and education has minimal government support. There is a definite lack of HCV literature in physicians offices, clinics and hospitals. Many of our family doctors are woefully uneducated about this disease that can affect a persons health in a myriad of ways. The public needs to educated and informed about HCV and its effects. Testing should be encouraged for all those at risk.

In a complete lack of empathy, your Health Minister has publicly stated that he believes that a prominent liver specialist exaggerated when he described HCV as reaching epidemic proportions. We think it would be prudent for your government to check the surveillance of HCV and see how many new infections are discovered each year due to the slow progression and sometimes asymptomatic phases of this deadly disease. We also ask that you call for action on this very important health and social issue.

Our government has yet to see the burden that HCV will have on the social systems of Canada. As people are denied treatment, they illness progresses and previously healthy taxpayers will then rely on disability, EI and welfare. There is also the cost of ongoing care and the need for organ transplants. It is estimated that HCV infects 5 to 6 times more people than HIV/AIDs and that number grows daily. According to recent surveillance, there are about 600,000 Canadians afflicted with HCV. In British Columbia, approximately 60,000 of your constituents have HCV. Currently, your government pays only for ongoing medical care for those persons in marginalized situations such as prisoners and addicts. Many of us became infected with HCV through tainted blood transfusions or other modes of transmission and are left with minimal support. As citizens who have to live our lives with this devastating disease, we demand medical rights.

As with the HIV/AIDs crisis in the 1980s, people live with the stigma, shame and guilt of HCV. We fear losing our jobs, housing and even our friends and family. We have been denied access to proper care by your government by your refusal to pay for medical treatment for us.

I became aware of my own infection six years ago. By that time, I had significant liver damage. Consequently, I tried combination therapy on four separate occasions to try to eradicate the virus. As a result, I had multiple hospital admissions, lost all my hair and suffered various side effects comparable to chemotherapy. As a single parent, I spent almost four years with my eldest son being my sole caregiver. The toll this has taken on my family can never be repaired. Hence, I have vowed to do all I can to raise awareness about this silent killer that can be undiagnosed until the liver is irreparably damaged.

As a large number of voters are infected, we want to know what is your partys position is on this issue. We would like to hear your position on this critical issue prior to Election Day and what steps you will take to change current policy. I hope to have a reply on your partys position and the need to have HCV addressed in this campaign as a public health priority.

www.hepccanada.com

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