Sun, March 21, 2010
Lifestyle > Health

China works to stamp out discrimination against Hepatitis B carriers

2010-03-21 08:59:30 GMT2010-03-21 16:59:30 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

BEIJING, March 21 (Xinhua) -- Wang Huayang has experienced three unforgettable health checks so far -- one that first found him infected with Hepatitis B virus (HBV) and two others that confirmed his disease and made him ineligible for two hard-earned jobs within eight months after graduation from college last June.

But as the new rule that bans mandatory HBV tests in applying for jobs or admission to schools is being carried out across China, Wang hoped he could finally "bring his talent into full play."

Since its release by three central government ministries on Feb. 10, local governments across China have been issuing supporting measures to implement the rule.

This week, more than 10 provinces or municipalities, including Beijing,removed HBV tests in the ongoing health checks for college entrance examination and lifted the ban on HBV-infected students to apply for majors that were previous off limits to them.

On Thursday, the State Administration of Civil Service said the health check for government-post applicants would on longer include a compulsory special test for HBV carriers and all HBV checks would be removed.

Yu Fangqiang, chief coordinator of the Beijing-based group Yirenping that fights discrimination against the disease, told Xinhua these moves showed the government's intensifying resolve to stamp out discrimination and ensure equality.

"In fact, the government has been fighting the discrimination against HBV carriers for years, but the efforts were largely in vain. What makes the Feb. 10 rule different is the new penalty codes for incompliance," he said.

In south Guangdong Province's Foshan city, leaking the information of patients' infection with HBV could lead to revoking of doctors' practicing certificate, according to a rule issued by the city's health authorities.

Yu said the move should have come sooner and warned that tight supervision was required for the rule to be implemented successfully.

Despite the government drive, the group he works for continues to receive many violation cases, like denying HBV-infected kids into primary schools and testing job applicants for HBV in hospitals owned by the employer.

Both Yu and Wang attributed this entrenched discrimination to the public misunderstanding of the disease out of ignorance of the disease, which the World Health Organization states is primarily transferred through child birth, shared syringes, blood transfusions and sexual contact.

The WHO particularly emphasizes that people won't be infected by casual contact like eating or working with HBV carriers.

"So the other measure the government has to take to wipe out the discrimination is to educate the public, telling them it's all right to eat or work with HBV carriers," said Yu.

"I don't know how long it will take for the public to really know the truth about the HBV, but it won't be short," Yu added.

Wang was forced to leave the big company he had worked for six months after his employer found out his infection with HBV in the company's annual health check.

Now working to file a suit against the company with Yu as his attorney, Wang said, "I really hope the government can eliminate the discrimination. Individuals are too small to beat big companies in legal suits."

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