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China drops hepatitis B check for school, work

China drops hepatitis B check for school, work

China will soon stop mandatory hepatitis B tests for people applying for jobs or admission to schools, the Health Ministry said Tuesday, after years of efforts by civic groups to fight discrimination against carriers of the liver disease.
Hepatitis B is endemic in China, with an estimated 120 million sufferers. Currently, students applying for schools and job seekers are usually required to undergo health checks that include tests for the disease. People are sometimes denied positions even though the disease cannot be transmitted by casual contact.
Ministry spokesman Mao Qun'an said a soon-to-be-released government policy will strike hepatitis B off such standard health checks, and prohibit other restrictions or limits on hepatitis B carriers from education and work, acknowledging that many still face unfair treatment.
"According to experts, the current society's misunderstanding of hepatitis B virus carriers is mainly due to the lack of knowledge about hepatitis B," Mao said. He pointed out that hepatitis B is transmitted by blood, sexual contact or from a mother to a child. "Daily work, study or live contact will not lead to the spread of hepatitis B."
The non-governmental organization Yirenping, which fights discrimination against people with the disease, welcomed the announcement but said the move should have come sooner and warned that tight supervision was required for the rule to be implemented successfully.
"I think the government's decision is just a passive response to the cries of the people. Such a response is also too slow," said the group's founder, Lu Jun. "I'm also worried about the supervision for this new policy. If no punishment would be carried out for companies or health organizations doing the screening, the policy might not be effective."
Despite official recognition of the need to address discrimination against people with diseases like HIV/AIDS or hepatitis, Chinese authorities often harass activists who try to fight for equal rights for affected individuals.
Yirenping has assisted individuals in filing over 40 lawsuits, mostly discrimination claims, since it was founded in 2006, according to its Web site. In July, authorities raided the group's offices and seized dozens of newsletters in apparent retribution for the group's legal advocacy work.


Updated : 2021-08-03 16:44 GMT+08:00