Hepatitis Hilfe Österreich
(Hepatitis Aid Austria) chair Angelika Widhalm called for the development of a
national strategy to combat viral hepatitis in Austria.
Approximately 200,000 people in Austria have chronic
hepatitis B or C, according to Hepatitis Aid Austria. Throughout the European
region approximately 23 million are infected with hepatitis B or C.
The Euro Hepatitis Index revealed deficiencies in Austria’s
response to hepatitis in the areas of public awareness, prevention, early
detection and early treatment of hepatitis. Austria was ranked fifteenth in a
comparison of hepatitis responses in the 27 member states of the European
Union. First place in the Euro
Hepatitis Index was awarded to France, followed by Slovenia and Germany.
"France managed top position because of its
strategic national co-ordination when it comes to defense against hepatitis,“
said Angelika Widhalm of Hepatitis Hilfe Österreich. “France is the only country in Europe – apart from a
regional initiative in Scotland – that has a nationwide plan for hepatitis that
covers all aspects of prevention, treatment and monitoring. This central
co-ordination enables them to combine the otherwise isolated actions of doctors,
patient organisations and other participants in France to their fullest
Hepatitis Hilfe Österreich is demanding a national strategic plan for
prevention and early detection. In particular, general practitioners should be
trained in the importance of early diagnosis of viral hepatitis.
Public awareness campaigns should also address
myths about viral hepatitis transmission in order to reduce stigma and
discrimination caused by fear of the disease. Furthermore the rights of people
living with hepatitis should be protected through legislation that protects
against discrimination in health care, housing, employment and other settings, Hepatitis Hilfe Österreich urged.