Today there was a scary reminder today in a newspaper about the increasing number of Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) carriers in Thailand. HBV is a disease that cannot be cured, it can be slowed by drugs, and these drugs in Thailand would be well out of reach of most carriers at around 500,000 Thai Baht per year.
HBV is a chronic liver disease that causes cirrhosis, this is a disease that which eventually leads to the victim turning yellow. Many HBV carriers end up with liver cancer. HBV ultimately leads to serious liver diseases and early death in up to 25% of the individuals.
In Thailand there are an estimated 3 million carriers, 1 in every 20 people, many don’t know they are carrying it though as they are perfectly healthy at this time. Only 15% of these people are being treated for the virus.
The reason the rate of infection is so high, is the lack of awareness. There simply isn’t enough being done by the government or its health ministers to make people aware of the virus. It is the same with safe sex education, it is non existent. You never see ads in any sort of media relating to safe sex or HBV.
Liver cancer studies have shown patients with HBV symptoms for a long time but never sought treatment or diagnosis. Cancer is the major cause of death among the Thai population with 62,000 deaths reported in 2006 alone. Most of its victims in Thailand are males.
Chronic hepatitis B is mostly prevalent in the Asia-Pacific region where 75% of the world’s 350 million carriers reside. Wow, that is a big number. 214 million carriers in the Asia Pacific region and you can leave out places like Australia and New Zealand. It is really obvious that Asian governments are not doing enough in awareness and trying to prevent the virus from being spread.
HBV can be spread easily to from a carrier, one is infected blood and also the virus can remain active on table tops, razor blades and blood stains without loosing its infectivity.
HBV is a chronic liver disease that causes cirrhosis, this is a disease that which eventually leads to the victim turning yellow. Many HBV carriers end up with liver cancer.
Why are Asian governments, when a taboo subject, usually because of the culture of the country, too afraid to publish awareness campaigns that could save lives. If they are worried about upsetting some people in the community with adds relating to safe sex, or the HBV, then so be it. A few old timers with their noses bent out of shape is better than more young people contracting diseases. If 1 life a year could be saved from an awareness campaign then the millions of Baht spent on it would be well worth it. A person’s life is worth more than money.