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"We Want Our Meds!"

Ontario Hep C Action Coalition demands treatment access

by J Den

"Too Sick, Too Healthy, Too Young, Too Old"
"Too Sick, Too Healthy, Too Young, Too Old"
Around 20 members of the Ontario Hep C Action Coalition gather outside the Ministry of Health & Long Term Care.
Around 20 members of the Ontario Hep C Action Coalition gather outside the Ministry of Health & Long Term Care.
Frank, currently in treatment for Hep C supports those denied access to treatment.
Frank, currently in treatment for Hep C supports those denied access to treatment.
The OPP examine the OHAC petition held by longtime Hep C worker Zoe Dodd.
The OPP examine the OHAC petition held by longtime Hep C worker Zoe Dodd.
Ontario Ministry of Health representatives meet with OHAC member Jennifer.
Ontario Ministry of Health representatives meet with OHAC member Jennifer.
Ontario Hep C Action Coalition's first rally.
Ontario Hep C Action Coalition's first rally.

On the eve of World Hepatitis Day, members of the newly formed Ontario Hep C Action Coalition (OHAC) gathered outside the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care to deliver a petition demanding the removal of barriers to Hepatitis C treatment.

The petition, signed by over 300 individuals was accompanied by a letter to Minister Diane McArthur, outlining the denial of funding for treatment experienced by those with Hepatitis C Genotype 1 and demanding a response by August 31st. The Exceptional Access Program -- designed to cover access to drugs for those who receive Ontario Works (OW), Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) or those with limited private insurance --- treatment criteria often rejects providing access to those it deems “too sick” or “too healthy” and those over the age of 72 regardless of other health conditions.

The Ontario Hep C Action Coalition was recently created by community members with lived experience with Hepatitis C and allies to advocate on behalf of all those with Hepatitis C. They aim to focus not just on treatment issues facing those with Genotype 1 but also restrictive changes to the Special Diet provided to those on OW and ODSP and other treatment barriers.

“Everyone who has Hep C has special dietary requirements that cost money and it’s not just if your body mass index is below 25, those aren’t the only people needing extra funds for food. It’s different things we see that are inequitable” explained OHAC member Jennifer.

“The new medications are increasing the efficacy and clearing rates of Hep C. The treatment for Genotype 1 is 48 weeks long and the treatment for Genotypes 2 and 3 are 24 weeks. I think from the Ministry’s standpoint it’s an issue of money. But how much is it costing us by not treating? And keeping people sick with Hep C?”

The Ontario Provincial Police barred access to the doors of the Ministry of Health and OHAC was unable to deliver their petition as a group. Representatives from the Ministry briefly met with OHAC members but gave no guarantees regarding further meetings.
 

Toronto’s World Hepatitis Day event will be held at Queen West Community Health Centre (168 Bathurst St) on July 26th from 1-3pm.
 


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