Hundreds get tested for hepatitis
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.