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Encouraging Chinese people to love their livers

New Zealand’s Chinese communities are among the highest risk groups for liver diseases such as hepatitis B. That’s why liver health nurses around the North Island, particularly in Auckland, will be increasing efforts to engage with them in 2021. 

These engagement initiatives include next month’s Chinese New Year festival in Auckland. Three Hepatitis Foundation of NZ nurses will attend the festival to raise awareness of hepatitis B and other liver diseases. 

Hepatitis B is contagious and spreads from person to person through bodily fluids, including blood, semen and vaginal fluids. Understanding the risks is vital, as is the need to get tested, and the foundation’s nursing team continuously strives to educate people on both counts. “If you think you might be at risk of having hepatitis B, getting tested is vital,” says Hepatitis Foundation CEO Susan Hay. “The virus often begins damaging the liver before any symptoms appear.” 

Testing can help Chinese people live longer, healthier lives. 

Chinese immigrants have a high risk of hepatitis because, while a vaccination programme was introduced in China in 2002, immunisation levels have not yet reached a point where they can effectively limit spread. Of the 350 million people living with hepatitis B globally, one-third are Chinese. In New Zealand, one in 10 people of Chinese ethnicity have hepatitis B. People aged over 25 may not have had a vaccination and testing for hepatitis B is strongly recommended.

“Recent research shows a large percentage of Chinese New Zealanders are unaware of the risks, and this needs to change to help reduce the incidence of hepatitis B in New Zealand,” Susan says. 

The Chinese New Year festival is at the ASB Showgrounds in Auckland on January 30.


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