Feature Articles

World Hepatitis Day 2013: ASIAHEP Hong Kong Ltd and FPAHK advocate “Fourth High” Campaign

Ref Number: ESEAOR201307c

  • Date28 Jul 2013
  • Category FPA Message
  • Targets Public
  • AuthorFPAHK
  • Topic Health Knowledge

The World Health Organization set July 28 as World Hepatitis Day to raise global awareness of viral hepatitis and encourage prevention. This year the Family Planning Association of Hong Kong (FPAHK) and ASIAHEP Hong Kong Ltd, a charitable organization combating viral hepatitis B infection, held the “Fourth High” Campaign, advocating men who have hepatitis B to undergo regular check-up and monitor HBV DNA level in order to prevent serious liver diseases.

FPAHK’s Pre-marital Check-up service includes screening for hepatitis B and vaccination to prevent its transmission. Since 2009, the Association has partnered with ASIAHEP Hong Kong Ltd to provide specialist follow-up of asymptomatic carriers at the FPAHK Hepatitis B Assessment Clinic.

Chronic hepatitis B infection is the leading cause of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. “Liver cancer is the No. 2 cancer killer among men in Hong Kong, with approximately 1,000 death cases every year, many of whom are in their 40’s, in the prime of life,” said Dr Nancy Leung, Chairperson of ASIAHEP Hong Kong Ltd and Honorary Medical Consultant of FPAHK. “Clinical experience has shown that the HBV DNA level is higher among middle-aged male patients than their female counterparts, explaining the higher incidence of liver cirrhosis and cancer among men. However they are less likely to undergo assessment and treatment, indicating a lack of awareness and understanding of their disease. In fact, patients with chronic hepatitis B infection can reduce their risk of liver cancer by 78% by timely treatment” she added.

Even late-stage liver diseases can be asymptomatic. By the time jaundice, fatigue, loss of appetite, abdominal pain and weight loss are present, death is eminent. “To avoid chronic hepatitis B from becoming fatal, every adult in Hong Kong should undergo screening,” said Dr. Leung. “Anyone tested positive for hepatitis B should be monitored through regular blood tests, checking the level of HBV DNA to identify active viral replication and hepatitis activity in order to seize the opportunity for antiviral treatment and to prevent liver cancer.”

At the publicity event, 3 patients who had been suffering from hepatitis B related liver diseases shared their personal experience of their illnesses. They were now stabilized with antiviral treatment and their HBV DNA levels had returned to minimal levels.

Dr Susan Fan, Executive Director of FPAHK, said “Middle-aged men play a key role in family planning and are often the breadwinners for their families.” Testing for the ‘Three Highs’: cholesterol, blood pressure and blood glucose is a well-established health concept in the community, she said. “We want to encourage those with chronic hepatitis B infection, especially adult men, to add periodic testing for the ‘Fourth High’, i.e., HBV DNA, to safeguard health.” ASIAHEP and FPAHK are offering HBV DNA blood test at half price to the first 200 registration s on a first-come-first-served basis.