Rates of newly diagnosed cases of Hepatitis C in the territory are down compared to a decade ago, according to data from the Department of Health and Social Services’ public disease registry.
The data shows that in 2002, 90 people were newly diagnosed with Hepatitis C out of 100,000. Since the Northwest Territories has a population of just over 44,000, that means the actual number of cases was around 40.
Last year, the territory only saw 14 new cases according to the department.
“The numbers of new cases that are diagnosed have been going down since about 2007,” said Dr. André Corriveau, the territory’s chief public health officer.
Corriveau attributes this in part to campaigns in the mid 2000s that aimed to increase awareness of Hepatitis C in the territory and promote testing – leading to an increase in newly diagnosed cases.
“We’ve been promoting testing now for about a decade,” he explained.
“Since then we had a peak of newly diagnosed people, and then the numbers have been going down every year since then.”
The ‘peak’ refers to a period between 2011 and 2014 that saw the number of new cases grow slightly in the territory, followed closely by a downward trend that led to the low number of cases in 2016.
“The numbers are going down because there’s less people who would be infected and not know it at this point in time,” Corriveau explained.
On Monday, Northwest Territories MP Micheal McLeod stressed the need for a national Hepatitis C strategy while making a statement in the House of Commons.