"Know it, confront it' is the theme for World Hepatitis Day 2011 and Mayor Kevin Winters is getting behind the initiative by declaring Thursday 28 July World Hepatitis Day in Rotorua.
Mr Winters said he supported the four key goals of the Hepatitis Foundation of New Zealand, which were about lifting awareness, increasing identification of people with hepatitis, improving management of those with the disease, and improving access to treatment.
"I'm therefore very pleased to proclaim 28 July 2011 as World Hepatitis Day in Rotorua.
"Hepatitis B and C affects a significant number of New Zealanders, and the biggest problem is that most of the people with the disease don't know they have it and so they can't access the free, effective treatment available. It also means they can't be followed up to detect early signs of liver damage.
"Hepatitis is responsible for about 90% of liver cancer in New Zealand and more than 60% of liver transplants. More than 250 New Zealanders die prematurely and unnecessarily each year due to low diagnosis and treatment rates for viral hepatitis, a statistic which will cost New Zealand more than $400 million by 2020."
Mr Winters said it was estimated that the number of New Zealanders with hepatitis who die from liver cancer or liver failure will treble over the next 20 years.
"But the good news is that early detection saves lives and treatment works. So I'm very pleased to lend my support to the initiative to help raise awareness about hepatitis."
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