Today, New Zealand actress Rena Owen will be joining hundreds of health professionals, social workers, community groups and people living with hepatitis B and C to deliver the "Auckland Statement": a call for urgent action to curb the rate of new infections and stop the rising death toll from viral hepatitis.
At the event Ms Owen will speak publicly about her private battle with Hepatitis C.
More than half a million people across Australia and New Zealand are thought to be living with chronic Hepatitis B or C infections. These people may have no symptoms and therefore live with what Ms Owen calls, "An insidious silent killer."
"Without treatment, this deadly virus can progress to liver cancer or failure. It is a global epidemic and one of the leading causes of death by liver disease. Every single day 50 more New Zealanders and Australians are diagnosed with chronic viral hepatitis," says Ms Owen.
"Unless there are drastic changes, many will not even know that they are infected until it is too late."
"We need to raise awareness and change the current low levels of diagnosis and treatment. It can save a life and that is why I am choosing to share my story publicly."
Viral hepatitis can be transmitted via sexual contact (hepatitis B) or blood-to-blood contact (hepatitis B and C). Those most affected by viral hepatitis include people who inject or have injected drugs, people born overseas in countries with widespread viral hepatitis infection, Maori, Pacific Islander, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
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