Awareness campaign in Canada targets hepatitis

Health officials in northwest Canada are attempting to stop the spread of hepatitis and HIV through the sharing of needles and other drug-related equipment.

Kathy Pouteau, a physician at Kasibonika Lake First Nation, said that the new awareness campaign carries a message of respecting yourself, respecting others and ensuring that people using drugs use clean equipment each time they use, CBC News reports.

The campaign, called "Get Informed. Get Tested," is endorsed by the First Nations' chiefs in the region.

In addition to make sure that drug users use clean equipment, the campaign emphasizes the importance of using protection to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Pouteau is the chair of a working group that deals with blood-borne infections and sexually transmitted diseases. The ad campaign will encourage people to be tested for hepatitis B and C and HIV.

"What we were seeing is a...change in the pattern of drug use in this area...and so we're really trying to...inform people and empower them to...make the choices to help protect themselves as well as protecting the people around them," Pouteau said, according to CBC News.

Pouteau said that the campaign will include postcards, video and audio PSAs and in-person outreach. The campaign started on February 4 in Sioux Lookout, CBC News reports.