BINAY WANTS TO END DISCRIMINATION AGAINST HEPATITIS PATIENTS
Senator Nancy Binay vowed to push for legislation addressing discrimination against hepatitis patients.
Speaking at the Asia Pacific Association for the Study of the Liver (APASL) Public Health Forum, Binay said individuals who are Hepatitis B positive should still be able to lead normal lives, even in the workplace.
"Prohibiting people with viral hepatitis B and C from getting a job has no scientific or legal basis and should not be used to prevent someone from getting gainfully employed," Binay said.
Binay, a member of the senate committee on health, said she supports the passage of Senate Bill 1520 or the proposed Bloodborne Viral Hepatitis Testing Act of 2017 which seeks to penalize discriminatory acts against people who suffer from Hepatitis B and C.
"Discrimination in employment on the basis of being hepatitis B positive alone denies people their basic human and civil rights of being economically productive and contributing to society," she added.
Based on the WHO estimates in 2016, around 8.5 Million Filipinos are chronically infected with the hepatitis B virus.
Meanwhile, the Hepatology Society of the Philippines estimates that 7.3 million adult Filipinos are chronically infected making our country hyperendemic for hepatitis B. This rate is extremely high compared to other countries and is more than double the 8% average prevalence of HBV infection in the Western Pacific region.
Binay said aside from legislation, education is key in ending the stigma associated with hepatitis. She said her office would study the inclusion of hepatitis information on school health curriculum to dispel myths and misconceptions about the disease.
"Another way is to encourage people to talk about hepatitis. I believe the more we talk openly about hepatitis, the less it will be stigmatized," Binay said.
"Discrimination has no place in our society. We must strive for equality for all," she added.