CanHepC Annual Meeting - May 12, 2022

Trainees in Ottawa May 12, 2022

CanHepC held its 7th Annual Meeting on May 12, 2022 in person in Ottawa gathering 67 of our member investigators, knowledge users, collaborators, and trainees.

The meeting provided a much anticipated opportunity for all our members to reconnect after two years of COVID-19 pandemic. The main goal was to review the objectives presented in the network’s renewal application CanHepC: from discovery to implementation and discuss next steps in terms implementing the work under the new program structure. The program began with an overview of CanHepC’s new programmatic and governance structure for the next term. During the course of the day, each research area/theme and cross-cutting platform leads took turn to present their objectives, plans & budget for the next year each followed by discussion periods.

Under research area 1, the network will focus on optimising prevention and treatment programs to eliminate hepatitis C. Through the creation of an HCV social epidemiology consortium reuniting established research network, cohorts and researchers evaluating novel prevention strategies theme 1.1 will focus on the development of suite HCV prevention indicators reflecting key behavioural, social and structural determinants of HCV infection. Basic science objectives (theme 1.2) will focus on the immune correlates of protective immunity in priority populations to inform vaccine development and liver outcomes. Using our established data linkage platforms, theme 2 will estimate undiagnosed fractions in provinces, the impact of birth cohort screening using the British Columbia model where one-time birth cohort HCV screening is recommended, and use modeling methods to assess the cascade of care in different priority populations. Under theme 3, implementation and behavioural science methods will be used to explore enablers and barriers to the implementation of intervention, tools and programs in different priority population and across the cascade of care.

Research area 2 aims to assess the long-term consequences and health implications of hepatitis C infection, re-infection and treatment. Under this research area, the network will focus on understanding liver and non-liver outcomes by linking the established CANUHC prospective cohort to administrative data and the continued follow-up of people with cirrhosis. We will identify the frequency of testing to detect HCV re-infection post SVR in high-risk populations using the re-infection sub-study and finally, through established projects contribute to understanding the cascade of care in pregnant women living with HCV.

CanHepC re-affirmed its commitment to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) with the creation of a new cross-cutting EDI platform which aims to remove barriers that limit full participation of talented individuals and create an inclusive culture in CanHepC. The Indigenous platform will be cross-cutting and intersect with the EDI platform where objectives align ensuring robust support for CanHepC in Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing and decolonization. Its aims are tree-fold: to promote Indigenous governance in CanHepC’s research projects, build trust and meaningful engagement and articulate a formal community accountability framework responsive to Indigenous community needs.

Our network-level knowledge translation and exchange (KTE) platforms include the Canadian HCV Symposium as our main event for knowledge, dissemination and exchange of emerging research and evidenced-based programs, interventions and practices. Through the Regional HCV Elimination Roadmap project CanHepC will contextualize the Blueprint to inform hepatitis C elimination efforts in Canada facilitating regional scale HCV elimination with the development of regional roadmaps for elimination regrouping provinces and territories into 6 regions in addition to a National Indigenous Roadmap. CanHepC will also continue to strengthen collaborations with its knowledge users and partners on KTE, advocacy and awareness campaigns and activities.

As every year, the CanHepC training program was reviewed and trainee feedback was presented. New objectives this year will include adding EDI considerations and education in the training program. The meeting closed with a review of the network’s financial and administrative status. A detailed report of the day is available to all our members (and guest who attended the day) on request. Thank you again to all present at the Annual Meeting and to everyone involved - see you again next year!