Hun­dreds get tested for hep­ati­tis

Central Leader - - NEWS -

A cam­paign launched by the Hep­ati­tis Foun­da­tion of New Zealand has re­sulted in hun­dreds of peo­ple re­spond­ing af­ter dis­cov­er­ing they may be at risk of hep­ati­tis B.

The foun­da­tion launched the ‘Can you say yes’ cam­paign at the start of July as part of its build-up to World Hep­ati­tis Day this Sun­day.

‘‘We’ve seen a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in peo­ple re­quest­ing a test for hep­ati­tis,’’ Hep­ati­tis B pro­gramme man­ager Su­san Hay says.

‘‘We are thrilled peo­ple are tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for their health and tak­ing the nec­es­sary steps to find out if they have the virus.’’

Ms Hay says there were also a large num­ber of peo­ple self­en­rolling on to the foun­da­tion’s national pro­gramme, as well as an in­crease in doc­tors re­fer­ring pa­tients with hep­ati­tis to the pro­gramme.

The Hep­ati­tis Foun­da­tion of New Zealand is a char­i­ta­ble trust pro­mot­ing pos­i­tive health out­comes for peo­ple liv­ing with chronic hep­ati­tis.

Foun­da­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive John Hor­nell is is­su­ing a call for ac­tion on hep­ati­tis B.

‘‘Too many lives are lost to this man­age­able dis­ease. If peo­ple are di­ag­nosed early and are reg­u­larly mon­i­tored, out­comes would be dif­fer­ent.

‘‘We urge any­one over 25 years who is of Maori, Pa­cific Is­land, or Asian eth­nic­ity to get tested,’’ Mr Hor­nell says.

Peo­ple should also get tested if they were born out­side New Zealand, their mother or close fam­ily mem­ber has hep­ati­tis B, or if they live with some­one with hep­ati­tis B. Ap­prox­i­mately 100,000 New Zealan­ders live with chronic hep­ati­tis B, and most are un­aware they have it.

This virus is the main cause of liver can­cer in New Zealand; how­ever, in most cases, liver can­cer is pre­ventable if de­tected early.

‘‘Reg­u­lar blood test­ing en­ables early de­tec­tion of com­pli­ca­tions, such as liver in­flam­ma­tion and can­cer. If any anom­alies are iden­ti­fied, we can act be­fore it’s too late,’’ Mr Hor­nell says.

Sun­day is World Hep­ati­tis Day and is an op­por­tu­nity for ev­ery­one to learn about hep­ati­tis and an op­por­tu­nity for peo­ple to get tested if they are, or have been, at risk.

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