“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
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 a
broad 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.