As more than three million Muslims from around the World prepare to travel for Hajj pilgrimage in October[ii] (http://#_edn2), and with almost half of all UK visitors to India and Pakistan last year travelling with the purpose of visiting friends and relatives[iii]
Andrew Langford, Chief Executive of the British Liver Trust says: “Hepatitis B is a serious and sometimes life-threatening disease which is 50 to 100 times more infectious than HIV. It is passed on to others from blood or body fluids of a person who has the virus, and not everyone who has the virus is ill or is aware that they could infect someone else. Even a tiny speck of dried blood from an infected person can be all it takes to pass on the virus. People visiting friends and relatives overseas, or traveling for pilgrimage, are urged to consider the risks and to seek travel health advice from their GP or travel clinic at least a month before travel.”
Those visiting friends and relatives overseas may perceive that they are not at risk of disease because they will be staying in familiar surroundings, however, in reality, these travellers tend to stay abroad for longer and live as part of the local community, and are therefore more likely to come across situations that could increase their likelihood of exposure to infectious diseases[iv]
While contaminated medical equipment (especially needles) is a common way that the Hepatitis B virus is passed on, there are also many seemingly harmless ways that the infection can be spread such as sharing objects like razors, toothbrushes, nail clippers or earrings[v] (http://#_edn5)
Peter Basile, Medical Advisor at GSK says: “The B-Aware campaign will run across Indian and Pakistani media channels and information is distributed through local GP surgeries, pharmacies, travel agents and places of worship in 25 key regions of the UK, as well as at the London mela. The aim is to increase awareness and understanding of the risks of Hepatitis B when travelling and to encourage people to consider visiting their GP or travel clinic for health advice prior to travel.”
A campaign website www.b-aware.co.uk and mobile phone app have also been developed to offer further support to travellers with a risk indicator tool that enables them to check out their travel risk.
Notes to editors:
GlaxoSmithKline – one of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies – is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer. For further information please visit www.gsk.com.
About the B-Aware campaign
B-Awareis a disease awareness campaign with the aim of providing information, promoting awareness and educating the public about Hepatitis B and its risk to health. The campaign is aimed at UK travellers who are travelling overseas to visit friends and relatives. In 2013, the campaign particularly focuses on those visiting friends and relatives in India and Pakistan, where the risk of Hepatitis B is greater than in the UK.
As part of the ‘B-Aware’ Campaign, communities will see health messages through Indian and Pakistani television and radio channels, as well as in GP surgeries, pharmacies, travel agents and their local places of worship across 25 locations in the UK.
Travellers can visit www.b-aware.co.ukfor more information and to check out their travel risk.
About the GSK survey
Market research was carried out by Ipsos Healthcare on behalf of GSK. 335 Indian and 303 Pakistani UK-based travellers took part. Face to face pen and paper interviews were conducted in London and Manchester. Interviews were conducted between 8th and 22nd July 2013.