The lack of common knowledge about hepatitis B in China was the
cause of widespread discrimination suffered by the country's 120
million carriers, said a senior official with the Ministry of Labor
and Social Security on Thursday.
"Many people believe they can be easily infected by carriers,"
Yu Faming, an official responsible for employment and training with
the ministry, told a hepatitis B positive graduate, who had faced
frequent rejections from prospective employers.
"In fact, common daily contact with hepatitis carriers like
having dinner or talking is safe, and a lot of people just don't
know that," said Yu, calling for a public awareness campaign.
"The virus is mainly transmitted through the exchange of bodily
fluids such as contaminated blood and semen, shared needles and
mother-to-baby contact," he said.
The ministry also warned employers nationwide against
discrimination in a notice on its website, www.molss.gov.cn., on
Employers are prohibited from rejecting job applicants or
dismissing employees on the grounds that the job seekers are
infected unless the nature of the job might help spread the virus,
the notice said.
Medical institutions should also try to protect the privacy of
carriers, it said.
Though showing no symptoms and posing no threat to co-workers,
most hepatitis B carriers, almost one tenth of the total
population, suffer discrimination at work and in society.
(Xinhua News Agency June 1, 2007)