Programming Connection

Ahtahkakoop Know Your Status Hepatitis C Program 

Ahtahkakoop Health Centre

2020

Challenges

Treatment readiness: A small percentage of clients who are experiencing life instability may decide not to begin treatment. The challenges they are facing may include issues with housing, substance use, mental health or other personal factors. The care team works with clients to decide whether they are ready for treatment. If they are not ready, the team will continue to support them through other health or harm reduction services. They can also make other referrals for mental health support or to the community’s social development services. By staying in touch with the client, they will be ready to engage them in treatment when the individual is ready.

Reinfection: In the first year of the program, there were cases of reinfection among clients who were successfully cured. In response, the program increased its focus on harm reduction and prevention, including more education on injecting practices for those who continue to use drugs after cure.

Funding and finances: Finding funding and financial resources for the program has been a challenge. The program did significant planning at the outset to leverage existing resources at the health centre to minimize costs. It has been possible to operate the program sustainably with the help of partnerships with external agencies.

A health centre staff member collects sweetgrass, a traditional medicine in Indigenous practice. A memorial in the background commemorates residential schools, one of the many ways that colonialism in Canada harmed Indigenous people, leading to disparities in health, including hepatitis C and substance use. (Photo by Conor Ashleigh, 2019)