120 Million Hepatitis B Virus Carriers in China Face Discrimination

June 20, 2006 12:00 am Last Updated: June 20, 2006 12:00 am

As reported by Beijing Daily on June 13, Beijing has become a moderate hepatitis B virus (HBV) epidemic region in the country. Based on China's statistic in 1992, there were at least 30 million HBV patients and 120 million HBV carriers in China. The epidemic situation is serious but prevention and education are insufficient, causing millions of HBV carriers to severely suffer not only in body, but also in spirit as they face discrimination by the uninformed,

Serious HBV Epidemic

Based on a recent survey revealed by Beijing Health Bureau, 5.76 percent of Beijing citizens carry the hepatitis B virus, and the infection rate is 45 percent. The incidence rate in recent years is approximately 20 out of 100,000.

According to medical experts, the incidence of the hepatitis B disease in China is the highest in the world. For instance, the incidence rate of hepatitis B is more than 17 percent in Guangdong Province.

Liu Gengtao, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and a liver biochemistry pharmacologist, said that the survey in 1992 showed that there were 30 million HBV patients and 120 to 150 million HBV carriers, more than 10 percent of the population, and accounted for one third of the total HBV carriers in the world. Nearly half a million people die of this disease each year, and the annual cost for medical treatment of the disease in China was over 100 billion yuan (US$12.5 billion).

As reported by Xinmen Weekly, Zhuang Hui, a member of the China Academy of Engineering and an professor at Department of Etiology in Medical Institute of Beijing University pointed out that due to the lack of a standardized diagnosis of the hepatitis B and a comprehensive assessment of the social effect in China, the quality of epidemic report was underestimated and the degree of seriousness was attenuated. .

Omnipresent Discrimination Against HBV Carriers

With ineffective publicity and education regarding the HBV disease, the public does not understand HBV, which cannot be transmitted through common contacts.

According to an investigation on ten non-food and daycares professions in Shanghai and Beijing cities, seven of them simply refused to accept hepatitis B virus carriers, two said there is a small chance of being considered, and only one said it would recruit HBV carriers.

Among ten randomly selective people on a spot investigation in Beijing and Shanghai, everyone believes that saliva is the main vehicle of HBV infection. Seven people think that daily contact with virus carriers can also cause infection. Three people think body fluids such as sweat glands can infect other people. However, they are all mistaken. Where did all these wrong impressions come from?

An analysis from a forum named “Heart to Heart” on a well-known HBV carriers website in China indicated that in order to make profit, numerous fake anti-hepatitis B advertisements twisted and exaggerated the hazardous nature of HBV carriers; some medical clinics even abuse their right in diagnosing and treating the HBV carriers. With the disguised support and tacit permission from the government apparatus, rather relatively backward education of popular science, and retarded regulations stipulated by the Chinese authorities, the substantial discrimination against HBV carriers has become prevalent in society.

Eighty thousand registered members in the “Heart to Heart” forum indicated that they live in an isolated and discriminated environment every moment of every day, and many of them are forced to lose their opportunity to work, study, family and social activities. Their lives are miserable beyond description. In recent years, many of them have moved towards human rights protection using their rights entrusted by law.