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First Nation perspectives on why First Nation youth are at risk for Hepatitis C Barney, Gertrude Lucy

Abstract

The prevalence of Hepatitis C (HCV) in the First Nation youth population is unknown, however, it is understood that the rate for HCV in First Nation people is 7% higher compared to the non-First Nation population. HCV is contracted via blood to blood contact through activities such as sharing syringes, crack pipes, tattoo and piercing equipment with someone infected with HCV. In this qualitative study, ethnography research methodology and a community-based research philosophy were used to examine why First Nation youth are at risk for HCV within the 13 - 17-year-old age group and what recommendations they offer health care providers and First Nation youth on the prevention of HCV. The sample included fifteen First Nation youth as well as eight Elders participating in a focus group that sought to elicit advice ranging from what questions to ask Youths to participants' suggestions on prevention of HCV. Data analysis consisted of in-depth interviews, focus group participation and field notes focused on language used to describe risk-taking, when youth start using drugs and why they risk-take. Prevention ideas were gathered at the same time. Five themes emerged: Surviving risky lives; fn search of positive role models; being a First Nation youth means taking risk: living as a member of a culture whose traditions have been eclipsed by violence; access to health care; and awareness of HCV. There is a great divide in how Elders and youth view youth's role for the future. First Nation people think of Seven Generations ahead of the one they exist in. However, today's First Nation youth are putting aside their future until a later time in their lives; they define their own current culture of surviving being at risk. The framework used to understand the issues of risk-taking and prevention of HCV is the Braid Theory (Mind, Body and Spirit strands) that I developed out of the need to help others understand why First Nation people do not comply with western medicine regimes.

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