APAH-RO, Romania, Celebrates World Hepatitis Day 2013 and raises awareness of hepatitis in the country
Flash mob: „I don’t see, I don’t hear, I don’t speak about Hepatitis”
28th of July 2013 – More than 250 people in Romania participated this Sunday on World Hepatitis Day between 12:00-14:00, at the flash mob organised by APAH-RO (Romanian Liver Patients Association) in Bucharest (Plaza Romania), Brasov (Centrul Civic), Campia Turzii (Central Park).
Through its regional representatives, APAH-RO created events which contributed to the attempt to surpass the Guinness Book record from last year through „the highest number of people which, within 24 hours, make the three symbolic gestures: see/hear/speak no evil”. Similar events have been organised around the world, in order to raise awareness about the importance of early detection of hepatitis and to fight against stigmatisation.
The initiators of this campaign are the World Hepatitis Alliance and The European Liver Patients’ Association, of which APAH-RO is a member. APAH-RO had in Romania the support of the Romanian Chronic Patients’ Association (APCR). Besides the events in the three cities, around Romania (Giurgiu, Arad, Timisoara, Alexandria, Iasi, Bacaru, Craiova) APAH-RO has organised together with volunteers (students, some at the Faculty of Medicine, liver patients) awareness campaigns and distributed information materials on hepatitis and other liver conditions as well.
We also had the support of the 300 participants at the International Metropolitan Triathlon in Brasov, who wore World Hepatitis Day bracelets during their event (27-29 July 2013).
„This year we wanted our event to be bigger, to reach out to more people in order to convince them about the importance of being informed and getting tested, for an early detection of hepatitis, but also of other liver conditions. And, with the help of our volunteers, we succeded. It is paramount to understand that viral hepatitis is a silent enemy. We definitely do not have to wait for the symptoms but have to get tested, because we live in a country where 1 of 10 people has either Hepatitis B or C. We can thus save ourselves and those around us. As patients, we must have the courage to speak openly about this condition and stop fearing discrimination. If we want to make a difference, we have to start it ourselves” said Marinela Debu, president of APAH-RO.
Why are such actions useful?
Following our testing campaign “Hepatitis C does not hurt. It just kills.”¸ organized in the first half of this year by APCR (Romanian Chronic Patients Association) together with Prof Dr. Matei Bals, Infectious Diseases Institute (INMB), out of the 50.000 Romanians tested for free, 4,63% were found to be infected with the Hepatitis C virus. According to a national study (2006-2008) done by a team of researchers from the Hepatology and Gastroenterology Center (Fundeni Clinic Institute), coordinated by Prof. Dr. Liana Gheorghe, together with the National Public Health Institute, the prevalence of the HCV infection in Romania has been, during the time of the study, of 3.23%.
Other studies have shown that neither the Hepatitis B situation is very good in Romania, although the prevalence has been decreasing following the newborns vaccination program started in 1995. Still, it is crucial that adults understand that they have to get tested and then vaccined.
„Specialists estimated that the peak of the Hepatitis C infection in Romania will be reached around the year 2020, due to the cumulation of patients infected before 1989 and new patients due to IV drugs, piercing or tattoos” stated Cezar Irimia, president of APCR.
Still, the manager of INMB, Prof Dr Adrian Streinu-Cercel underlines that these data need to be supported by other relevant estimation methods. As such, since last autumn a team at INMB has started to work on the National Registry of Liver Patients, which will become functional starting next month.
APAH-RO has also developed a project based on a protocol with the National Agency of Penitenciaries, on raising awareness, informing and promoting preventive measures among the penitenciaries population. Inmates from penitenciaries in Craiova, Giurgiu and Codlea have already started to be visited by APAH-RO representatives and receive information and counseling on viral hepatitis.
Partners for the World Hepatitis Day, 28th of July 2013.
Braşov City Hall, Plaza România – Bucharest, County Police Office Braşov, National Anti Drugs Agency, Câmpia Turzii City Hall
„Viva la Musica” Cultural Association, „Sonor”, Dumbrava Soarelui Hotel – Braşov, Alis Grup, STL Turda
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