A promotional campaign under way this month aims to help more people at risk from hepatitis B.
Awareness of the virus is low nationally and globally, and the Hepatitis Foundation of New Zealand hopes to help change that with various promotions in the lead-up to World Hepatitis Day on July 28 (#WorldHepatitisDay2018). From the beginning of July it has been running radio, social media and print promotions to educate the public about hepatitis and encourage people at risk of the virus to get tested.
“Approximately 100,000 New Zealanders live with chronic hepatitis B, and most are unaware they have it,” says Hepatitis Foundation of New Zealand Chief Executive Susan Hay.
World Hepatitis Day is celebrated globally. The annual event gives people a chance to learn about hepatitis and highlights the importance of getting tested if you think you may be at risk. A World Hepatitis Day poster is available for health care professionals who want to help raise awareness of hepatitis.
The hepatitis virus is the main cause of liver cancer in New Zealand, but this is preventable if hepatitis is monitored and liver cancer is detected early.
“If people are diagnosed early and are regularly monitored, outcomes would be different,” Ms Hay says. “We urge anyone over 25 years who is of Māori, Pacific Island or Asian ethnicity to get tested.”
People should also get tested if their mother or a close family member has hepatitis B, or if they live with someone with hepatitis.
Hepatitis B and C are blood-borne viruses. Hepatitis B can also be contracted by sharing body fluids with an infected person. The viruses cause inflammation of the liver, which can lead to cirrhosis or liver cancer if left undiagnosed. More than 500 million people worldwide live with chronic hepatitis B or C.
The Hepatitis Foundation is a charitable trust promoting positive health outcomes for people living with chronic hepatitis. It provides a follow-up programme offering regular blood tests, education and support. There are 25,000 patients currently enrolled in the programme.
For more information call 0800 33 20 10 or visit hepatitisfoundation.org.nz.
© The Hepatitis Foundation of New Zealand 2016