To eliminate blood-borne infections in Canada, we have to remember that prison health is public health

published on March 6, 2020 by Thomas Kerr in Globe and Mail

In our efforts to eliminate hepatitis C (HCV), HIV and other blood-borne infections, Canada is dragging its feet on the health of a particularly important but often forgotten group: people in prison. The World Health Organization tells us that it’s possible to reduce global rates of HCV by 90 per cent by 2030. But this can only happen if every country commits to making evidence-based decisions in pursuing these elimination goals. Sadly, as the 2018/2019 report from the Office of the Correctional Investigator highlights, Canada is not even close to being on track.

A critical step to eliminating HCV and HIV as public health threats is to prioritize the health of prisoners. Most people in prison do not stay there forever; they return to their communities after serving their sentence. And all too often, they return carrying the burden of HCV, HIV or another needless infections acquired behind bars.

Peer-reviewed findings by researchers at the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use have revealed high rates of unsafe injecting within prisons in the province, as well as challenges in accessing treatment for infectious diseases such as HCV and HIV…

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