Surender Kumar

 

I was a human resources executive in a leading thermal power generation company in India.

During a blood donation camp in 2010, I found out that I have hepatitis B. I had never heard about hepatitis B before this incident. It was a shocking moment for me because I had never had a blood transfusion. I discussed with family and prepared all of them for hepatitis B screening.

The results were a shock to all of us as three family members were also diagnosed with hepatitis B. It had been passed on to us from our mothers at birth.

I decided to leave my job which was the only source of income for me and my family, and I started education programmes about the diseases in the most vulnerable slums and villages in India.

Being a survivor, it is now my duty to protect future generations. I started my organisation RANN Foundation, which works for awareness and prevention of viral hepatitis in India. I never hide my hepatitis B positive status; in fact I share my story whenever I can but I know that not everyone who is living with hepatitis can reveal their status due to discrimination in the family and society. Misconceptions and stigma attached to the disease often lead to discrimination and marginalisation of people living with the chronic infection, which is a major concern and has a big impact on the lives of patients in India.

My fight against the disease focuses on multiple fronts: preventing hepatitis B through vaccination camps for children who have dropped out of school, conducting education programmes on viral hepatitis in schools and urban slums, and providing psychosocial support to patients. With around 1.5 lakh (150,000) deaths annually and almost 60 million Indians affected, viral hepatitis continues to be a serious public health concern.

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