New Health Test Coming to the Elders Conference

New Health Test Coming to the Elders Conference

November 8, 2019

By Jordan Cryderman

Recently, CSFS was awarded grants from Gilead Sciences, a biotechnology company, and Merck, a pharmaceutical company, which they used to receive training on dried blood spot testing (DBST). Dr. John Kim, Chief of National Laboratory of HIV Reference Services, provided the training to CSFS staff members. This test is less restrictive than other blood tests, and is able to screen for diseases such as Hepatitis-C, HIV, and Syphilis.
This new program will remove the challenges of screening for Hepatitis-C, HIV, and Syphilis in remote and rural communities. There are certain restrictions with the traditional method of drawing blood into vials. Specific facilities are required to test samples, and because it is a biohazard samples must be shipped in a specific way. With DBST, the sample is no considered longer infectious after it dries, and can be mailed to Vancouver to be tested.
DBST is similar to Diabetes testing, where a small needle is pricked at the end of the finger. The patient provides blood samples on a paper card, and is set to dry.

Virtually anybody can be trained on DBST. Privacy will remain a top priority, as the test results will be sent to the patient’s doctor or nurse practitioner; the person performing the test will not see the result.
The training provided by Dr. Kim was a collaborative effort, as staff from programs such as mental health, nursing, and residential care all participated, as did the community health representatives from surrounding band offices.
Hepatitis-C has a larger presence in the Indigenous communities of our region compared to the national average. Hepatitis-C affects 0.6%-0.8% of the population in Canada today. However, the rate in Carrier Sekani populations is 1.75%. Thus, it is important to take action and bring new strategies to the communities. After the unveiling, each community will have the opportunity to strategically plan on how to bring testing and treatment to their community.

Though infection rates are higher in Carrier Sekani communities, treatment is more practical than it was in the past. Treatment only takes 8-12 weeks with minimal side effects, and has a cure rate of 95%. Also, anybody will qualify for the treatment, regardless of one’s financial or social circumstances.
The hope is that with the accessibility of this new testing program at CSFS, paired with the ease of treatment options, Hepatitis-C will be eradicated from our communities. As DBST helps break barriers and brings health care to our remote communities, CSFS will look to implement it at future health fairs.


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Last modified: Wednesday 03-Apr-24 12:36:29 PDT