Michael Chan M.P.P. and the Canadian Liver Foundation urge Ontarians to talk more openly about hepatitis B

    More than 100,000 Ontarians are living with hepatitis B

    MARKHAM, ON, Jan. 30 /CNW Telbec/ - Today, the Canadian Liver Foundation
was joined by Michael Chan, M.P.P., Markham-Unionville at a press conference
held at Markham Stouffville Hospital to promote their effort to raise
awareness and encourage open discussion about hepatitis B.
    Chronic hepatitis B affects an estimated 230,000-300,000 Canadians.
Canada is home to many people who come from countries with high endemic rates
of hepatitis B. For example, people born in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, southern
and eastern Europe are at a much higher risk of being impacted by this
disease. They may be battling the disease in silence and may not know where to
go to for information and resources.
    "The Canadian Liver Foundation is doing important work to educate
Ontarians about the issues surrounding hepatitis B," said Michael Chan,
M.P.P., Markham-Unionville. "The importance of talking about the disease, and
encouraging our families and friends to do likewise, cannot be emphasized
    Today's discussion focused on raising awareness and educating the public
to help reduce misconceptions around the disease and encourage diagnosed
patients to speak to their health care provider about the disease, its
consequences and its management. Ontario has one of the highest rates of
hepatitis B in Canada. It is estimated that more than 100,000 people with
chronic hepatitis B are living in the province.
    "My hope is that this effort to educate the communities directly impacted
by hepatitis B will help to lessen the social stigma and shame that prevents
sufferers from seeking treatment and will drive people to take action to
protect themselves against the disease's potentially devastating long-term
impacts," said Canadian Liver Foundation President, Gary Fagan. "The CLF is
grateful for M.P.P. Chan's support in our effort to promote awareness about
hepatitis B. He is a strong advocate for the community and we look forward to
continuing our work with him on this very important initiative."
    Hepatitis B is a serious liver health issue in Canada and a type of
hepatitis that is frequently overlooked. Often called a "silent" disease,
hepatitis B can cause severe liver damage for several years without showing
any symptoms. In fact, chronic hepatitis B is the leading cause of liver
cancer worldwide and while death rates have declined for most forms of cancer
in Canada, liver cancer is unfortunately on the rise. In addition to hearing
about the risks associated with the disease and not knowing if you are
affected, attendees at today's press conference also learned about new
developments and treatment approaches for the management of hepatitis B.
    "As physicians, we continue to see the harmful effects of chronic
hepatitis B," said Dr. Morris Sherman, Medical Advisor for the Canadian Liver
Foundation. "Recent advances in the area of hepatitis B mean that we can now
fight it better than in the past. The first step is early diagnosis, so it is
extremely important for people to learn about the risks for hepatitis B and to
talk to their doctors about getting tested. Coupled with education efforts,
the use of new and very effective treatments will help protect against these
effects by controlling the virus and preventing progression of the disease."

    About the Canadian Liver Foundation

    The Canadian Liver Foundation is a national organization whose objective
is to promote liver health, reduce the incidence and impact of all liver
diseases, and improve the quality of life of the adults and children living
with liver disease. This year marks the Foundation's 40th anniversary of
championing the battle against liver disease through research and education
into the causes, diagnoses, prevention and treatment of liver disease in all
its forms. To date, it has invested more than $10 million in liver research,
$3 million of that in the last three years.

For further information:

For further information: Julie Holroyde, Hill & Knowlton, Mobile: (416)
254-5300, julie.holroyde@hillandknowlton.ca; Melanie Kearns, VP, Marketing and
Communications, Canadian Liver Foundation, (416) 491-3353 ext: 4923, Toll
free: 1-800-563-5483, mkearns@liver.ca

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