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HBV victims face improved job chances
By Zhang Feng (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-01-19 23:58

More than half of hepatitis B patients have lost out on an ideal job or educational opportunity because of their disease, a sample survey shows.

However, China has made some progress in protecting the working rights of hepatitis B virus (HBV) carriers, said Weng Xinhua, an expert from the Chinese Medical Association.

The ministries of personnel and health revised national standards covering health qualifications for public servants saying that HBV carriers who do not show symptoms can still apply for jobs in the public service.

And Zhang Xianzhu, a young man in Wuhu of East China's Anhui Province, won the country's first job discrimination case involving the rights of non-infectious HBV carriers in early 2004.

Zhang sued the Wuhu municipal government's personnel affairs bureau in December of 2003 after he was rejected for employment because he has HBV.

And Hunan Province also cancelled the regulation forbidding HBV carriers to be public servants last year.

Meanwhile, the amended Chinese Prevention and Treatment of Infectious Diseases, which became effective last December 1, also says that companies and persons cannot discriminate HBV carriers.

China has 120-million HBV carriers, nearly a 10th of its population, and 30 million of them have become active patients, said Weng at a meeting Wednesday.

But Meng added: "The hepatitis B virus (HBV) brings out a lot of bad effects on people's health, work, and family and social activities."

Among these bad effects, discrimination is still a quite outstanding problem, said Weng Wednesday in Beijing, as he reported the results of the survey to the media.

About 52 per cent of the 425 hepatitis B patients surveyed said they once lost a job or educational chance due to their disease.

And 47 per cent worry their employers might lay them off if they discover they are HBV sufferers, the survey actually done by Synovate Healthcare, a company headquartered in London.

The patients come from six cities, including Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Wuhan and Shenyang, and took the survey from October to November of 2004.

Some 380 people of those questioned were aged 20 to 50, of prime working age, Weng noted.

However, Weng said, discrimination is still widely existing among the public and employers.

There is a long way to go to change the present situation because the survey shows that the HBV carriers are still being looked down upon in many fields and places, Weng added.

The source of the discrimination is the public not understanding HBV, which cannot be transmitted through common contacts, such as shaking hands or taking a dinner together. Weng said.

Education is quite vital not only for the public but also for the employers or officials, he noted.

"I want to cry, I am hopeless and do not know where my future is," said Fan Dingding, an assumed name for an HBV carrier, on the forum of www.hbvhbv.com, a famous web site established by HBV volunteers.

Fan, a university student from Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province, said he will graduate this summer, but has been refused by four companies for the virus in his body.

Many HBV carriers appealed on the web site that the law and government should list the HBV infection as a private thing and should be deleted from the required items of health examination as people seeking for a job.

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