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World Hepatitis Alliance Warns that Stigma is a Major Threat to New Initiative Against Hepatitis Epidemic
Date:7/27/2011

GENEVA, July 27, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --


Patient community calls on governments to do more to reduce stigma as World Hepatitis Day receives official WHO endorsement for the first time

On World Hepatitis Day the World Hepatitis Alliance is warning governments that, unless they also tackle stigma and discrimination, important new action to improve and save millions of lives will be wasted.

The warning from the patient community comes one year after the agreement of an historic World Health Organization (WHO) resolution, which for the first time described what is expected of governments to deliver improvements in awareness, surveillance, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of viral hepatitis.  The resolution was passed just weeks after the Alliance published research that found only a few - less than one third - of governments funded action to reduce the stigmatisation of, and discrimination against, people living with hepatitis B or C[1].

"Viral hepatitis is a global epidemic. The decision of the 193 countries of the WHO to adopt a resolution last year was the first step in tackling it, but we have a long way to go" said Charles Gore, President of the Alliance. "Right now the resolution is just a piece of paper. The challenge for governments is to action it, and that will be immeasurably harder if we don't at the same time vigorously confront stigma."

500 million people are living with chronic hepatitis B and C worldwide but, despite the huge burden, there is widespread ignorance of the diseases.  This ignorance leads people to assume they are not at risk; it prevents people coming forward for testing and treatment; it stops people paying attention to awareness messages and so increases the risk of infection as people are unaware of the major routes of transmission; and it reinforces stigma.  

The theme for this first official WHO-sponsored World Hepatitis Day is 'Hepatitis
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SOURCE World Hepatitis Alliance
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