More than 16.7 percent of adult Filipinos have been diagnosed with Hepatitis B. Many of these cases, however, could have been prevented if only we had a better understanding of the disease. “We need to properly make Filipinos aware of the disease if we wish to lower the cases of Hepatitis B in the country,” says Dr. Eternity Labio, President of the Hepatology Society of the Philippines. “As we launch the B-Aware Campaign, we aim to inform and holistically educate Filipinos about the disease so they can gain sufficient knowledge regarding this very common infection, and take action.”

Read on to know more about the endemic disease.

1. Hepatitis B is the most common cause of liver cancer in the Philippines.
Hepatitis B is a viral infection that leads to a lot of serious disease. According to the Hepatology Society of the Philippines, those diagnosed with the Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) can go on to develop cirrhosis and liver cancer, which is the second leading cancer killer in the country.

2. Hepatitis B is contracted through blood transfusion.
Most people have the notion that you can get HBV from eating street food or by sharing utensils with someone who has HBV, but the fact is, HBV is transmitted via blood transfusion, with the most common being from mother to child.

3. A Hepatitis B vaccine is mandatory and free for all infants.
That said, all infants are now required to get vaccinated within 24 hours of birth under Republic Act 10152. The series of shots is free.

4. The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has issued a non-discrimination policy on the disease.
The lack of knowledge on HBV is also one of the reasons why there is discrimination against employees or applicants with Hepatitis B in the office. While it’s impossible to eradicate this overnight, DOLE is working to change things one step at a time. You can also approach the Yellow Warriors Society Philippines for help.

5. Getting yourself tested and vaccinated is a priority.
You can be afflicted with HBV and not know it until you find yourself dealing with liver cancer. If you haven’t been vaccinated, get yourself tested first. Once you’re in the clear, go get yourself vaccinated. It’s a small price to pay for your peace of mind. Tested positive? See your doctor immediately and ask about possible medications to prevent liver disease and liver cancer.

(Photo by lu_lu via Flickr Creative Commons)

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