Cancer Council Victoria has launched a new campaign to encourage Vietnamese Australians to get tested for hepatitis B.
Many people in the Vietnamese community are unaware that they may have hepatitis B and are at risk of developing liver damage or liver cancer.
The new campaign which is running in newspapers and on the radio in March features Footscray doctor Hoang Tran.
Doctor Tran is passionate about diagnosing and treating hepatitis in his community.
“One in 11 Vietnamese Australians are living with the hepatitis B virus, but the real tragedy is that many do not know it,” he said.
“Hepatitis B often shows no symptoms, but if it is not treated it can lead to serious health problems.
“Up to one in four people with untreated hepatitis B may develop liver damage and / or liver cancer.”
Dr Tran said that everyone born in Vietnam and their family should be tested for hepatitis B.
“From my practice in Footscray I see many members of my community who are at great risk, but it doesn’t need to be this way,” he said.
“A free blood test will identify if you have the virus. If you don’t have hepatitis B, you can be protected by receiving a vaccination.
“Or, if the test shows that you have hepatitis B a simple treatment or monitoring is available to stop it progressing.
“Getting tested could save your life, and save your family from unnecessary heartbreak.”
Dr Tran’s path to become a doctor was not easy. He left Vietnam when he was just 17 years old, after his family feared for his future welfare in the country.
After taking a dangerous journey by boat to Indonesia, he was offered asylum in Australia where he studied medicine.
Today he has established his own medical practice and is determined to help members of his community improve their health.
“Please do something for yourself and your family, talk to your doctor and get tested for hepatitis B,” Dr Tran said.
“Your life could depend on it.”
For information in Vietnamese, call 13 14 50 and ask for Cancer Council Victoria or visit www.cancervic.org.au/vietnamese-hep-b