Hepatitis fails to find Australian ambassador
NO HIGH profile Australians have been willing to become the face of hepatitis by acting as a national ambassador for World Hepatitis Day.
Hepatitis Australia CEO Helen Tyrrell said there were many high profile and senior people in government, business and academia with the disease but nobody wanted to be associated with it in a public sense.
“The fact that no-one stepped forward [as ambassador] said it all,” she said.
“Hepatitis is everywhere. It can affect anyone, anywhere. People with hepatitis come from all walks of life. It is virtually in every street and workplace in Australia.”
Ms Tyrrell said more than 11,000 Australians were diagnosed with hepatitis C in 2009 and another 7000 with hepatitis B, or 18 times the number of people diagnosed with HIV, but community knowledge and awareness of the disease remained very low.
The theme of World Hepatitis Day is ‘This is hepatitis... Know it. Confront it. Hepatitis affects everyone, everywhere’.
“Today is the start of a new conversation about hepatitis,” Ms Tyrrell said.
“We may not have had any prominent Australian today prepared to step forward in 2011 to take the message to the community, but we will hopefully in the future.
“The likelihood is that someone you know, or know of, will have hepatitis.
“The challenge for all Australians is to create a community where people don’t feel ashamed and can talk openly about their health condition rather than keep it hidden for fear of being shunned.”