Sep 012014

Councilor Charisse Abalos sits down with one of the attendees who is getting her blood taken during the launch of the B Positive movement in Mandaluyong City. The project aims to raise awareness of Hepatitis B and its impact on the lives of Filipinos.  

MANILA, Philippines – Last July 30, a few days after World Hepatitis Day, Mandaluyong became the first city in the Philippines to initiate the B Positive movement, an advocacy aimed at raising proactive awareness towards Hepatitis B. The launch, which was held in the Mandaluyong City hall executive building, included free testing of Hepatitis B Surface Antigen to some pre-registered and walk-in residents. The event also included free seminars on the prevention and management of Hepatitis B, as well as consultations on what to do in case you test positive for the disease.

 The Mandaluyong campaign was spearheaded by Councilor Charisse Abalos who said, “The Be In campaign is for societal infusion. We want to include those who tested positive   and are being discriminated against – because they are still part of society. And since they are one of us, we are also one with them.”

One in every eight Filipino adults has Hepatitis B and it kills more Filipinos faster than HIV and other diseases. It is usually caused by the complications from liver cancer or liver cirrhosis. It is the young who are most susceptible to Hepatitis B, affecting people ages 20 to 49. There are up to 12,000 Overseas Filipino Workers who are rejected from going abroad every year because they test positive.  

 According to Dr. Ira Yu, a consultant with the National Kidney and Transplant Institute, “Hepatitis does not only affect Filipinos. There are roughly four million people around the world with chronic Hepatitis B, though we (the Philippine population) have a prevalence  16 percent  of having Hepatitis B.”

 Hepatitis B is not contagious. It can be caught through blood exposure to someone who has it or through sexual intercourse, but not through contact with saliva or through the air. The disease can be managed through proper medicinal intake.

 “Those who are at high risk are those who have high exposure to procedures or whose nature of work exposes them to it,” shares Dr. Eva Maglonzo, executive secretary of the Philippine Academy of Family Physicians. Work that involves contact with knives, razors or other sharp objects, or being in a workplace where there’s a constant transfer of sexual fluids,  increase the risk of contracting the disease.

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Be positive

“This is what the B Positive campaign is fighting against  misconception, stigma and discrimination. Lack of knowledge leads to negativity, that’s why we want to address the negativity by championing positivity. Let’s all be positive,” says Councilor Abalos.

 There is a lot of misunderstanding and discrimination that comes along with the disease. The B Positive campaign is about three things: Be certain, get tested. Be Optimistic. Be Supportive.

To better understand Hepatitis B, one needs to be tested. If you are tested positive, then be optimistic. You can still be productive members of society. Manage the disease by taking medicines and observing proper hygiene so as not to pass the disease to someone else. Lastly, be supportive and help spread awareness.

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