Hepatitis – Know your status

July 28 is World Hepatitis Day. Many persons with viral hepatitis experience no obvious symptoms until serious liver damage has occurred. In fact, in Canada, about 1 in 5 people with Hepatitis C do not know they have the virus. If left untreated, viral hepatitis can lead to severe damage to the liver, liver cancer, and the need for a liver transplant.

According to CATIE, Canada’s source for HIV and hepatitis C information,

Hep C often enters the body by:

  • sharing drug equipment, including needles, syringes, filters, water and cookers for injecting drugs; and pipes or straws for snorting drugs
  • sharing improperly sterilized tools for tattooing, body piercing, acupuncture and electrolysis; sharing tattoo ink and ink pots can also pass on Hep C

Hep C can also enter the body:

  • through medical procedures, including vaccinations and surgeries, that re-use equipment that was not sterilized
  • through blood transfusions or organ transplants if they were not screened for Hep C (Canada started screening donated blood and organs for Hep C in 1990; in some other countries, blood wasn’t screened for Hep C until more recently)
  • by sharing personal items that might have blood on them, such as razors, nail clippers and toothbrushes
  • during rough sex among men who also have HIV
  • from parent to child during pregnancy or childbirth

Most people do not have symptoms for many years. The only way to know if you have Hep C is to get tested. If you have Hep C, treatment is available.

Want to know more? Visit us at one of our World Hepatitis Day events this weekend in Edson on Saturday and Hinton on Sunday.


Eating for a cause?

This Saturday, July 19, HIV West Yellowhead and participating restaurants in Jasper will be hosting our annual fundraiser, formerly Servers Against AIDS Day. First started in 2006, this event was created by the Mountain Movement – a volunteer group of staff, university students, and volunteers at Num Ti Jah Lodge on Bow Lake – a brain child of Meghan Ward, Rachel Slater and Paul Zizka. The Mountain worked to raise funds and awareness about HIV/AIDS related issues in Africa through the Stephen Lewis Foundation. The Stephen Lewis Foundation supports community programs for those affected by AIDS in Africa, such as grandmothers taking care of children orphaned by parents afflicted with AIDS.

Early fundraising efforts of the Mountain Movement included climbing and hiking summit challenges and Servers Against AIDS Day. Partnership between local organizations such as AIDS Bow Valley and HIV West Yellowhead and the Mountain Movement helped to grow the event and support both local and global HIV/AIDS initiatives. In 2007, Jasper servers raised almost $6000 between 25 participating restaurants. While the Mountain Movement is no longer active, Servers Against AIDS Day in Jasper has lived on under the initiative of HIV West Yellowhead.


The concept behind the fundraiser makes a lot of sense in the tourism based town of Jasper. Every summer thousands of seasonal workers, most of them young adults, travel to Jasper to live, work, and play. Many work several service jobs and have little time for volunteering. Servers Against AIDS Day provides an opportunity for them to get involved and volunteer for a cause. As one server described about the event in a 2008 Fitzhugh article, “I don’t see why anyone wouldn’t do it, because you’re basically getting paid to volunter. And it’s just one night out of the summer.”

This year, HIV West Yellowhead staff considered feedback about the event over the years and decided to make some changes in the hopes of making the event more flexible for all involved. The wonderful businesses that have supported this event over the years are varied, and range from small cafes to large pubs. By adding the option of restaurants donating a percentage of their sales or servers donating a percentage of their gratuities, we feel this enables participants to find the best way to join in and support HIV West Yellowhead and the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

With this change, and with changing times in mind, there was also a need for some rebranding. Staff want to promote a more positive message and acknowledge the fact that AIDS may no longer be a reality for everyone who is HIV positive. Our vision is that everyone live a healthier and longer life through education, prevention, and treatment.

dine for life

This year, Dine 4 Life will take place on July 19. Students at Pixel Blue, a graphic design school in Edmonton, graciously donated their time to design a new logo and advertising materials for the revamped event. We encourage anyone in Jasper on Saturday to dine out at the wonderful participating restaurants:

dine for life participating restaurants fb

All proceeds will go to HIV West Yellowhead and the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

Happy Eating!