Rotha’s message to others:
Knowing your hepatitis status today gives you a golden chance to take care of yourself and your family as a whole.
“I am a Hep Hero because I believe that everyone can contribute to improving the health of people with hepatitis regardless of one’s profession, and it starts with us.”
I am an international student from Cambodia, in the last semester of my Master of Public Health at the University of Melbourne. With my 10-year experience as a nurse in a Children’s Hospital and public health worker in World Vision Cambodia organisation, I have volunteered for Hepatitis Victoria since early July 2016 by supporting and contributing to prevention and education programs within the Cambodian communities across Victoria.
I was born in Cambodia where hepatitis prevalence is very high, yet the disease is not widely mentioned within local communities. Although I started working as a health professional worker, the disease was still a rare topic to put in common discussions.
Nonetheless, volunteering with Hepatitis Victoria has opened a gateway for me to have more of an understanding of the burden of hepatitis in Australia as well as globally, which urges me to spend my spare time off university studies to join with the organization in raising awareness about the virus.
It was my great opportunity to learn from elderly Australian citizens originally from Cambodia that they need more information and support on hepatitis. Thus not only people in Cambodia like me, but also the immigrants from the country have heard a little information about hepatitis, a silent blood-borne virus that often show symptoms much later after infected.
Although 95% of adults with hepatic B infection can get cured naturally, many of them do not know their infection status. The bigger concern is that the transmission from mothers to babies can make a 70-90% chance of developing into chronic infection with hepatitis.
Without realizing their hepatitis B status, these people can pass the disease to their descendants unintentionally especially for those from high hepatitis B prevalence countries like Cambodia.
In Victoria, chronic hepatitis B infection prevalence among
those being born in Cambodian stands at the fourth highest burden.
With the accurate information about hepatitis, people can make the right decision on time since hepatitis C now is curable and hepatitis B treatment is even more effective. This also help community people to have abroad view over social stigma by seeing hepatitis as a preventable and eradicable disease. In the role of Hep Hero with Hepatitis Victoria, I believe that I can contribute to make this happen.