About the WIPCVH

World Indigenous Peoples’ Conference on Viral Hepatitis 2021

Viral hepatitis impacts Indigenous peoples throughout the world at much higher than average rates, harming their physical, spiritual, emotional, social and economic health. This is often a result of the lasting impacts of colonialism, inadequate access to immunization and treatment, and lethargy on the part of governments to provide culturally-safe healthcare to Indigenous people. To highlight this issue and effect change, Indigenous people, including those with lived and living experience of viral hepatitis, clinicians, researchers and policy-makers will gather in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, June 23-26, 2021 for the third World Indigenous Peoples’ Conference on Viral Hepatitis (WIPCVH). *Please note that due to the COVID-19 crisis, the dates have changed from Sept. 23-26, 2020 to June 23-26, 2021.

Around the world, Indigenous people are overburdened by the various types of viral hepatitis. In Canada, First Nations people are seven times more likely to contract Hepatitis C. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Australia are approximately four times more like to contract Hepatitis B, and Maori and Pacific Islanders in New Zealand have twice the national rates of Hepatitis B. Indigenous people in Asia, Central and South America, and Africa also tend to have higher rates of viral hepatitis. Thorough epidemiological data is often missing, but it’s clear that hepatitis disproportionately affects Indigenous people, and the 2021 WIPCVH is vital to tackling this problem.

The 2021 WIPCVH, chaired by Dr. Alexandra King (citizen, Nipissing First Nation), Cameco Chair in Indigenous Health and Wellness at the University of Saskatchewan, will feature some of the leading hepatitis experts and Indigenous leaders in health and wellness. There will be presentations from Indigenous people and organizations who are using traditional approaches to wellness, sometimes in tandem with Western medicine, to treat hepatitis. Medical and frontline experts will share their latest developments. The impact of HIV as a hepatitis coinfection and what can be learned from successful HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention programs will be addressed. As this is an Indigenous conference, we will focus on work being done by and for Indigenous people. We will embrace the wisdom and knowledge of Elders, and have safe spaces for people to share their lived and living experiences of hepatitis. As presentations are being made inside, there will be Indigenous cultural and land-based activities occurring outside. There will be storytelling, sharing circles, demonstrations and lessons, and music and dancing, all important aspects of wellness.

The 2021 WIPCVH will be a dynamic, engaging conference that centres around Indigenous philosophies such as Ethical Space (respect when people from different worldviews engage), Two-eyed Seeing (embracing the best of both Indigenous and Western ways of knowing and doing), self-determination and cultural responsiveness. We will learn from Indigenous leaders who are at the forefront of viral hepatitis research and care. We will hear from Indigenous students who are involved in healthcare research that combines their ancestors’ wisdom with Western knowledge. We will hear how Indigenous communities in different countries and regions are finding innovative ways to create a greater awareness and visibility of viral hepatitis among Indigenous peoples, reduce stigma, and increase knowledge of and access to preventions, treatments and cures.

Approximately 16.3% of Saskatchewan’s population identifies as Indigenous, and their communities are impacted by hepatitis. The 2021 WIPCVH organizers in Saskatoon will engage local people with lived experience to participate in the conference and reach out to Indigenous communities in Saskatchewan to help welcome our global Indigenous cousins to Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis. Together, we will continue to work towards viral hepatitis elimination and prevention by, with and for Indigenous peoples.

PREVIOUS EVENTS

September 14-16, 2014

WIPCVH Alice Springs, NT, Australia

The inaugural World Indigenous Peoples’ Conference on Viral Hepatitis was held back‐to‐back with the 9th Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference in September 2014.

The conference was the first of its kind dedicated to examining the health burden of viral hepatitis in Indigenous peoples. It provided a forum to share common experiences and innovative solutions and to develop new relationships to enable collective responses into the future.

The program reflected the breadth of work underway in this area, spanning human rights, development, community engagement, basic science research, clinical service provision, healthcare delivery and public health and prevention. The involvement of Indigenous peoples in all aspects of the project was key to its success.

The outcome of the conference was the adoption of the Awernekenhe Consensus Statement which aims to promote greater visibility, action, knowledge and accountability by nation-states in recognising viral hepatitis as a major chronic disease in Indigenous peoples, within an Indigenous and human rights framework.

August 8-9, 2017

WIPCVH Anchorage, Alaska, USA

The vision of the second WIPCVH was to bring together members of the Indigenous populations of the world to discuss, deliberate and plan, with respect to viral hepatitis. By bringing together Indigenous peoples, those living with viral hepatitis, clinicians, researchers and policy-makers, the conference aimed to encourage conversations and network-building so that experience and expertise can be shared and disseminated.

This second meeting had five major aims:

  • To facilitate an international network of researchers, policy-makers, clinicians and people living with viral hepatitis to convene, deliberate, profile and negotiate consensus on approaches concerning viral hepatitis in Indigenous peoples;
  • To continue to discuss and document our knowledge of the prevalence of hepatitis viruses in Indigenous peoples across the globe and to profile and summarize current national activities;
  • To review our consensus statement on viral hepatitis and Indigenous peoples to assist nations, states, clinicians, researchers, scientists, people living with hepatitis, and Indigenous communities, to address viral hepatitis;
  • To establish an on-going International Forum with contributions from Indigenous peoples across the globe; and
  • To develop an on-going agenda for 2015-2025 for future conferences, workshops and symposia.

The program reflected these aims and a number of conference themes were agreed by the Organizing Committee. The conference focused on Hepatitis B (HBV) – including Hepatitis D co-infection – and Hepatitis C (HCV) across a broad agenda from clinical medicine and research, health services and public health, through to self-determination and human rights. Specifically, we invited papers from Indigenous peoples – and those researching with Indigenous peoples – which focused on: prevalence and incidence; prevention; treatment; cultural care and Indigenous approaches; national strategies; stigma and discrimination; human rights; quality care; medicines and pharmaceuticals; models of care in Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C; and co-infection.

The involvement of a wide range Indigenous peoples was considered a priority for the conference, and so plans were made to support Indigenous presenters and delegates from across the globe through the provision of travel, accommodation and registration scholarships. The conference brought together delegates from 14 countries representing a wide range of organizations, health providers and universities.