Monday 22 July 2013, 01:58PM
Media release from The Hepatitis Foundation NZ
Hundreds of people have been calling The Hepatitis Foundation of
New Zealand after discovering they may be at risk of hepatitis
"We've seen a significant increase in people requesting a test for
hepatitis," said Susan Hay, Hepatitis B Programme Manager of The
Hepatitis Foundation of New Zealand. "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 said there were also a large number of people self-enrolling
onto the Foundation's national programme, as well as an increase in
doctors referring patients with hepatitis to the programme.
The increase comes after hepatitis B risk factors were promoted
throughout areas of the North Island. The Hepatitis Foundation of
New Zealand launched it's 'Can you say yes' campaign at the start
of July, as part of a build-up to World Hepatitis Day on 28
John Hornell, CEO of The Hepatitis Foundation of New Zealand calls
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 Māori, Pacific Island, or
Asian ethnicity to get tested," said Mr Hornell.
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.
The Hepatitis Foundation of New Zealand is the national provider
for long-term follow-up of people living with chronic hepatitis B
(and/or hepatitis C). The 13,500 New Zealanders already enrolled in
the programme receive regular blood tests, education, and
"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," said Mr
"While we still need to identify tens of thousands of New
Zealanders who don't realise they have hepatitis B, I am also
concerned about the thousands of people with chronic hepatitis B
who have moved to Australia or other parts of the world. These
people may not be accessing regular blood tests that are vital in
preventing liver cancer."
On Sunday 28 July, people from all over the globe will come
together to celebrate and embrace World Hepatitis Day. This day is
an opportunity for all New Zealanders to learn about hepatitis and
an opportunity for people to get tested if they are, or have been,
The Hepatitis Foundation of New Zealand is a charitable trust
promoting positive health outcomes for people living with chronic
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