Prevention in Focus

Spring 2020 

Hepatitis C resources for immigrants and newcomers and for service providers who work with them

By Fozia Tanveer

Highly effective hepatitis C treatments are now widely available in Canada. However, some priority populations with higher rates of hepatitis C, like immigrants and newcomers, remain underserved because they remain undiagnosed or are not engaged in care and treatment.

In immigrants and newcomers from countries where hepatitis C is common, hepatitis C is primarily transmitted in their home countries through unsafe medical, dental and surgical practices. These include transfusion of blood or blood products that are not screened for hepatitis C; reuse of medical, dental or surgical equipment that was not properly sterilized; and traditional medical and cultural practices that involve cutting or piercing of skin where equipment is reused. These primary modes of hepatitis C transmission are different from the ones prevalent in Canada, although immigrants and newcomers may also be part of additional priority populations with other risk factors related to hepatitis C transmission. As such, immigrants can be missed by service providers for screening, which may result in delayed diagnosis and adverse health outcomes.

Rates of hepatitis C testing and treatment uptake among immigrants can be increased by raising the awareness of clients and service providers who work with them.

CATIE’s web portal houses an array of client and service provider resources on hepatitis C in Canadian immigrants and newcomers, which are available in print, video and online formats. Many of these resources are also available in languages spoken by large immigrant communities in Canada. Providing culturally appropriate information in immigrants’ own language is important when delivering hepatitis C education and care to those who may not be fluent in English or French. This article will highlight some important resources and tools contained in this portal that can be used when providing hepatitis C services to these communities.

Web resources

Video resources

  • A CATIE video entitled Hepatitis C in Canadian Immigrants and Newcomers: A hidden population is for service providers. The video provides important information on unique aspects of hepatitis C transmission, testing and treatment for immigrants and newcomers. The video is available in English and French.
  • A CATIE video entitled From diagnosis to cure: One newcomer’s journey with hepatitis C tells the story of a newcomer’s experience of accessing hepatitis C treatment while navigating an unfamiliar healthcare system. Targeted to South Asian audiences, the language of the video is Urdu, but the video is available with English or French subtitles. The video can be used by service providers who have South Asian clients to allay their fears about the treatment and its side effects. It can also be used to familiarize clients with the treatment initiation process and the time it can take.
  • CATIE developed two short videos focused on key testing and treatment messages. They are available in several major languages spoken by Canadian immigrants. These videos can be used in many different settings, including healthcare facilities frequented by immigrants, to encourage them to consider hepatitis C testing and treatment.

Print resources

  • CATIE’s print brochure entitled Hepatitis C Information for Immigrants and Newcomers provides up-to-date basic hepatitis C information on testing, treatment and transmission. It is available in Simplified Chinese, Tagalog, Urdu and Punjabi with either English or French versions of the text printed on the back of the brochure. This resource can be ordered or downloaded from CATIE’s Ordering Centre free of charge.
  • Frequently Asked Questions about Hepatitis C by Hepatitis Education Canada is a resource for clients that provides basic information on hepatitis C testing, transmission and treatment. It is available in the following languages: Hindi, Punjabi, Tagalog and Urdu, with English translations on each page. This resource can be ordered or downloaded from CATIE’s Ordering Centre free of charge. It comes with two additional resources:
    • Tests Used for Diagnosing Hepatitis C, an online guide that explains the two-step testing process to clients
    • Questions people frequently ask their health care provider about hepatitis C, a checklist of questions that people often ask their healthcare provider

About the author(s)

Fozia Tanveer is CATIE’s manager, immigrant and newcomer hepatitis C community health programming. She has been working with CATIE’s Hepatitis C Ethnocultural Education and Outreach Program since 2011 and has a Master’s of Development Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.