A recent GSK survey1 of UK residents of Indian and Pakistani origins has revealed a lack of knowledge of Hepatitis B and the potential risks of contracting the disease when travelling to India or Pakistan, especially when visiting friends and relatives.
Only four out of 10 people previously sought advice from their GP or travel health clinic before travelling to these countries on holiday, and of those planning to travel in future, over half cited the fact that they were staying with family and friends as the reason they would be unlikely to consider seeking travel health advice beforehand.
Dr Peter Basile, Medical Advisor at GSK said, “It is worrying that some people may think they are already protected from the disease or are lulled into a false sense of security because of the familiarity of where they are. This is simply not the case and people should be fully aware of the risks of travelling to countries where Hepatitis B is prevalent.”
The survey also showed that only 35 per cent of people knew that vaccination before travelling can protect against Hepatitis B, and only five per cent realise that vaccination should ideally happen at least one month before travelling.
Hepatitis B is a blood borne virus that attacks the liver, and in some cases can have serious consequences2, which is why prevention is important. For this reason it is recommended people get information on travel health now, a month in advance of trips they may have planned over the winter break. They can understand more about their risk by completing the risk indicator at www.b-aware.co.uk or by visiting their GP.
Dr Basile continued, “It’s important that people don’t leave it too late to get advice on how to protect themselves against Hepatitis B before going on holiday. Although the Christmas holiday period might seem like a long way off, it is crucial people think about their health in advance to get the right protection.”
GSK’s B-Aware campaign, supported by the British Liver Trust (www.britishlivertrust.org.uk), is helping to provide information and tackle misconceptions about Hepatitis B. It is a serious and sometimes life threatening disease.
The B-Aware campaign encourages people to see their GP or travel health consultant at least four weeks before going on their winter getaways to have a risk assessment of what their needs are. As a further support to travellers a risk indicator tool is available at www.b-aware.co.uk, and also as a mobile App to allow users to make their own personal assessment of their risks of contracting or being exposed to the Hepatitis B.