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Moms call for end to virus bias

The mother of a toddler who was refused admission to a kindergarten because she is infected with the hepatitis B virus has appealed for support from the State Council.

Li Hua, from Dongying in Shandong province, told China Daily yesterday that she sent a letter to the State Council on Wednesday, on behalf of herself and 100 other moms from across the country, whose children have all experienced similar forms of discrimination.

In the letter, the women said their children, all of whom are carriers of the hepatitis B virus, are being isolated from society by not being allowed to go to kindergarten with their peers.

"We hope our children can come out from the shadow the disease and enjoy more care from the country," the letter said.

Li, 33, said she took her 3-year-old daughter to a local kindergarten last month but was told the child could not join until she was completely cured of hepatitis B.

"My daughter has been taking medicine and is almost fine. There`s only a very small chance she could pass the virus on to other children," Li told China Daily.

"But the kindergarten said she couldn`t enter the place."

After conducting some online research, Li quickly discovered a host of other angry mothers, who all agreed something needed to be done.

"We hope that once State leaders know about it, they will do something to solve the problem, such as improving public awareness of hepatitis."

In an interview with the Beijing News yesterday, Duan Zhongping, a member of the Chinese Society of Hepatology, said youngsters with hepatitis cannot pass on the virus to others and should not, therefore, be deprived of a preschool education.

Hepatitis B is usually transmitted in one of three ways: from mother to child, through sex, and via blood transfusions, he said.

"But none of these things happen in kindergartens, so we shouldn`t worry about infection," he said.

In China, about 120 million people carry the hepatitis B virus, 30 million of whom have full-blown liver disease.

Yet despite its widespread incidence, there remains a lot of public misunderstanding.

Lu Jun, who runs an online hepatitis B forum, said: "Despite the government giving more attention to the disease in recent years, people with hepatitis B continue to face discrimination."

Zhang Weiping, director of the Huixinli Kindergarten in Beijing, said yesterday that every child should have an equal right to education.

"There is no regulation in Beijing that excludes carriers of the hepatitis B virus from entering kindergarten," Zhang said.

Date:2008-10-24 7:51:00     
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