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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Volume 2016, Article ID 7603526, 11 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2016/7603526
Commentary

The 5th Canadian Symposium on Hepatitis C Virus: We Are Not Done Yet—Remaining Challenges in Hepatitis C

1Department of Genetics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA
2Centre de Recherche du Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Montréal (CHUM), Montreal, QC, Canada
3The Kirby Institute, UNSW, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia
4Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada
5British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, Vancouver, BC, Canada V5Z 4R4
6University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z4
7Multi-Organ Transplant Program, University Health Network, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
8Chronic Viral Illnesses Service, Division of Infectious Diseases and Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, QC, Canada
9Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada
10Department of Microbiology and Immunology, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada H3A 2B4

Received 24 June 2016; Accepted 31 August 2016

Copyright © 2016 Nicholas van Buuren et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) affects approximately 268,000 Canadians and results in more years of life lost than any other infectious disease in the country. Both the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) have identified HCV-related liver disease as a priority and supported the establishment of a National Hepatitis C Research Network. In 2015, the introduction of new interferon- (IFN-) free therapies with high cure rates (>90%) and few side effects revolutionized HCV therapy. However, a considerable proportion of the population remains undiagnosed and treatment uptake remains low in Canada due to financial, geographical, cultural, and social barriers. Comprehensive prevention strategies, including enhanced harm reduction, broader screening, widespread treatment, and vaccine development, are far from being realized. The theme of the 2016 symposium, “We’re not done yet: remaining challenges in Hepatitis C,” was focused on identifying strategies to enhance prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of HCV to reduce disease burden and ultimately eliminate HCV in Canada.