July 28, 2020
By Jordan Cryderman
“Find the Missing Millions”- that is the challenge for this World Hepatitis Day (July 28); to shine a light on the millions of people across the globe who are unknowingly living with hepatitis.
Carrier Sekani Family Services (CSFS) has been hard at work to address Hepatitis C in the communities we serve, as the virus has a greater presence across Indigenous communities when compared to the national average.
That is why CSFS has adopted Dried Blood Spot Testing. DBST tests not only for Hepatitis C, but HIV and Syphilis as well. In 2019, a number of CSFS employees were trained to administer DBST, thanks to grants from Gilead Sciences, a biotechnology company, and Merck, a pharmaceutical company.
CSFS Chronic Health Nurse, Eloisa Turgeon, says DBST reduces barriers to testing in communities.
“We have many communities that are rural and remote. DBST eliminates the need to have a blood draw via venipuncture in a lab setting. This also means that they do not require health care professionals to conduct the testing. Samples can be collected by staff members trained in the collection material.”
DBST is not considered as invasive when compared to traditional blood tests. Instead of drawing blood into a vial, DBST involves a quick poke on the finger to draw a droplet. That blood droplet is then dabbed onto the designated card until it dries, and then it is mailed to the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC). The test is then analyzed and the results are sent back.
Due to the simplicity of the test, transportation of the sample is more accessible, allowing for testing to be done in more remote and rural areas, such as in the member nations we serve.
CSFS debuted the test November of 2019 at the Elders Conference. You can read more about that here.
In February, CSFS offered tests at the 2020 CSFS Winter Wellness Hockey Tournament as part of a health fair that ran in conjunction with the tournament. CSFS staff collected tests from 19 people, however, the results were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and subsequent testing initiatives have been put on hold but will be a focus going forward.
Turgeon says, “our goal is to continue testing in the future and increase the awareness of DBST as an option.”
So far, Southside Health and Wellness Centre has received the training. CSFS will continue to facilitate training for interested health centers to ensure we can be a part of “Finding the Missing Millions.”
Look forward to CSFS’ dried blood spot testing initiatives once the COVID-19 pandemic allows us to do so.
Last modified: Friday 12-Jun-20 15:43:45 PDT