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Law to Protect Hepatitis B Carriers' Rights

The Employment Promotion Law is being revised to provide a firmer legal footing for efforts to combat the discrimination that Hepatitis B virus carriers have encountered while looking for work, a senior official said.

If the revised law is passed, Hepatitis B carriers will have the tools they need to guard their right to secure fair employment and to have discriminating employers punished.

Liu Danhua, deputy director of the Labor and Social Security Ministry's training and employment department, said the drafters planned to write a chapter called "fair employment" and to add an article that bans employers from refusing to hire applicants because they carry infectious viruses.

She made the remarks during an online interview on on Friday.

At least 15,000 people participated in the online chat and left more than 600 messages for the official. Many spoke about their experiences of being rejected by employers because they are Hepatitis B virus carriers.

They applauded the document released by the Labor and Social Security Ministry and the Ministry of Health in May, which called for the protection of virus carriers' employment rights. Still, some were disappointed that some employers seemed not to have heeded the call.

According to the document, except for those industries barred to Hepatitis carriers because of the possibility they might spread the virus, such as food processing, employers are not to make Hepatitis screening a mandatory part of physical checkups. Medical organizations have been asked to protect carriers' privacy.

But in many cities checks for the Hepatitis B virus are more or less obligatory before securing employment.

A college graduate from Changsha, Hubei Province, using the Web alias "jiushi3953", said he had been rejected three times by companies because he has Hepatitis B. He was worried he would never get a good job.

"Almost every company in Shenzhen demands a Hepatitis virus check Please give me a chance to survive," he said.

Hao Yang, deputy director of the Ministry of Health's disease control and prevention bureau, said discrimination was rooted in people's misconceptions about Hepatitis B.

Many people and even some doctors think Hepatitis B virus can be transmitted while dining together or touching. Hao said this is wrong.

The country is home to about 120 million chronic carriers of the Hepatitis B virus, which may lead to chronic inflammation of the liver. Carriers do not suffer, and do not pose a threat to other people.


(China Daily July 14, 2007)

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