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hiv / hepatitis C

“A NORTHERN PROGRAM FOR NORTHERN PEOPLE” HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT HIV OR HEPATITIS C? THE SPECIALIZED SUPPORT TEAM HAS YOU COVERED. Vince Terstappen, Health Promotions, Northern Health

Because of advances in treatment and new research into the prevention of HIV and hepatitis C, HIV screening is now recommended for everyone as part of their routine health care. Despite these advances – which have also meant that those diagnosed early and following a prescribed treatment plan can live nearly as long as those without HIV or hepatitis C – there’s no doubt that a positive test can be a scary and confusing result. For individuals across northern B.C., however, there is now a specialized team available in-person, via telehealth video link, and over the phone to help navigate this tumultuous time. No matter where you live, the team can help you with any questions that you might have. I had the chance to sit down with specialized support team members Brenda MacDougald (social worker) and Jennifer Hawkes (pharmacist) to learn more about the way that they deliver care across the north. What is the specialized support team? The specialized support team is a team of professionals who work together to complement the care being provided by an individual’s family doctor or nurse practitioner. Our team includes a social worker, pharmacist, dietitian, and a consulting nurse practitioner. We were created in March 2016 and provide information specific to HIV and hepatitis C to 12

Healthier You

SPRING 2017

patients and their care team. We support both patients and care providers. What type of support do you provide? We provide specific, tailored information for patients and care providers about what community resources are available, how to access medications, considerations for starting a family, how to navigate the health care system with regards to HIV and hepatitis C, and more. We are also committed to helping those without a primary care provider to find one, because that’s the person they’re going to be seeing most regularly. In other words, we help individuals and their families navigate through getting their condition managed and their questions answered. We’re centered around the patient and their families. We want to help people meet their own goals. We are all about providing people with the information they want, when they want it. Some people want all of the answers right away. Other people don’t want any information for years. People’s questions also aren’t answered in one visit or interaction. Things come up as time goes on. We’re committed to connecting regularly, whenever the person has a question. How does your team address the challenge of providing HIV and hepatitis C care in rural and remote communities across northern B.C.? We consider ourselves a northern program for

Healthier You | Spring 2017  
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