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Hep B discrimination persists in foreign firms
By Hou Lei (
Updated: 2009-02-23 17:04

Discrimination against hepatitis B carriers in recruitment remains widespread among foreign-funded enterprises in China, a survey has found.

Eighty companies, or 84 percent of the firms polled, demand job applicants to undergo a checkup for hepatitis B, according to a report released by Beijing Yirenping Center, a non-profit agency that aims to promote social justice.

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The survey found that 44 percent of companies surveyed would reject hepatitis B carriers.

China is estimated to have some 120 million hepatitis B carriers and the discrimination against this group has been there for decades in employment and education.

The year 2005 was believed to be a breakthrough for hepatitis B carriers, as the government stipulated that they would be considered eligible candidates in civil servant recruitment if medical examinations showed they are not contagious.

The prejudice against hepatitis carriers results largely from a lack of knowledge about the disease, hence fears of infection when dealing with this group. Few know that the virus can only be transmitted through sexual intercourse, blood-to-blood contact or be transmitted from mother to child.

Hepatitis B virus carriers do not pose a threat to people around them or the environment, according to the official website of the Chinese Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

The country has been making efforts to protect their rights, with the employment promotion law banning employers from rejecting applicants carrying infectious viruses.

Experts are calling for more actions. They proposed to enact an anti-employment discrimination law which they believe could better protect the legal rights of people carrying infectious viruses.

Currently, there are such kind of laws in many developed countries, like Japan, Ireland and the United Kingdom.