Young mothers should be especially vigilant against HBV because the most common way of being infected is through the passing of the virus from mother to child. This is not something many mothers know because HBV is more known for being contracted via blood transfusion.
For this reason, the Hepatology Society of the Philippines launched the B Aware Campaign which aims "to inform and holistically educate Filipinos about the disease so they can gain sufficient knowledge regarding this very common infection, and take action" says Dr. Eternity Labio, President of the Hepatology Society of the Philippines.
What are the steps that should be taken to protect one's self and one's children against Hepatitis B?
1. Be Tested - The most important first step is to go for testing
2. Be Vaccinated - Someone who tests negative can receive vaccination to prevent themselves from getting the infection. Parents are reminded to have their infants vaccinated within 24 hours of birth (this is different from when my own kids were still babies. We had to wait several months before giving the 3 HBV shots to them). This vaccine is mandatory under R.A. 10152 and is free for all infants. Vaccination at birth is the most effective way to prevent lifelong infection and liver cancer.
3. Be Treated - If you test positive, steps must be taken to prevent transmission of the infection as well as to prevent its complications to the liver. Ask your doctor if you need treatment. There are effective medications available to treat HBV.
|World Health Organization and Hepatology Society of the Philippines members|
Another concern over HBV is the seeming discrimination against those who have contracted it. According to Dr. Labio, one of the medical tests administered to those applying for employment here and abroad is a test for HBV. While the HIV test is still optional, the one for HBV is mandatory. It then puts those who test positive at a disadvantage in relation to other applicants. She says that there is still a lot that needs to be done to make people change this negative perception against HBV
The Hepatology Society of the Philippines invites Filipinos to join them in their B Aware Campaign. First, to educate the public on what it is all about, its symptoms, vaccines and treatments. Second, to get people to actually be tested, vaccinated and treated. And third, to change negative perception towards those who have contracted it.