Organization explains hepatitis BPerson A, a 40-year-old breadwinner of a family, does not eat at the table with the rest of his family. He even uses separate towels. Person B, a 30-year-old businessman, is being pressed for a divorce by his wife’s family. Person C, a 20-something looking for employment, has passed many tough tests held by big conglomerates but has always failed to get hired.
The common denominator for these three people is the hepatitis B virus.
Yun Gu-hyeon, who heads the 15,000-member Liver Korea Organization (www.liverkorea.org), an organization for patients and carriers, says, “Members have a tough time because of people’s limited perceptions and prejudice on the virus.” The three cases mentioned above are all members of this organization.
Mr. Yun commented, “I advised A to tell his family there was no danger of infection because the antibody has already been formed. For C, I told him to seek out a conglomerate that does not discriminate against hepatitis B patients. In the case of B, it is very difficult to change the views of his wife’s family. I wish that he had been honest about his disease from the start of their relationship.”
“The percentage of hepatitis B virus carriers in this country ranges from 5 to 8 percent. A lot of these people do not experience symptoms after having been sick with hepatitis for a short time, because their liver functions normally after a certain period of time. Also, the rate of infecting other people with the virus is very rare, except for cases of blood transfusions, sexual intercourse or giving birth.”
The organization has started ‘Liver Awareness Campaign’ jointly with The Korean Association for the Study of the Liver, and doctors affiliated with the two bodies give lectures in hospitals to better inform patients and carriers, as well as their families, about the disease.
by Shin Ae-ri