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2012/01/20

Hepatitis B in China -Vimeo

-130 million in China suffer from HepB. 

Hepatitis B in China from Simon Lim on Vimeo.

Out of 350 million people world-wide infected with hepatitis B about 130 million live in China and that is almost the equivalent of the combined population of France and the United Kingdom.

Although there are no clear transmission paths for the disease in China, it is widely acknowledged that the three most common cause of infection is through contaminated blood transfusion, mother to child and sexual contacts. Awareness of the disease among the general public and health workers are even lower than that of HIV and AIDS.

Hepatitis B sufferers face severe discrimination in China in virtually all aspects of work and life. As recent as 2009, many Chinese employers require employees to have their blood tested for HBV (hepatitis virus) and most of those who tested positive would be told to leave their job. Even Chinese universities and some kindergarten were known to refuse entry to students who are infected with the disease.

Since October 2009, the Chinese Health Ministry has abolished mandatory testing for Hepatitis B for students, workers and even government employees. This is the result of pressure from the public, health advocates and activists rather than an acknowledgement of the problem and a genuine desire to raise public awareness. However, this still doesn't stop illegal blood testing and discrimination by many Chinese organisations and businesses as many of these laws are unenforced. In the same year, the Chinese government also pushed forward a free hepatitis B vaccination policy for all children under the age of 15. Unfortunately, this policy neglects children in the vulnerable age group from 16 - 18.

For the adults infected with the disease, there are no clear-cut and cost effective treatments available to them. Many have to pay for these regular treatments with no support from the state or the health care system. This means that financially challenged patients have to abandon the treatment once they are unable to continue paying for it. The only way an infected person can get free medical treatment is if they are also infected with HIV.

Simon Lim
MAPJD 2011


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