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Travellers Urged To Seek Travel Health Advice Well Ahead of Winter Holidays

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2013-11-15 13:02:49 - Before the long-awaited winter holidays, GSK and the British Liver Trust are encouraging people to ‘B-Aware’ of Hepatitis B when travelling to visit friends and relatives in countries where the virus is more prevalent, such as India and Pakistan.

A recent GSK survey1 of UK residents of Indian and Pakistani origins has revealed a lack of knowledge of Hepatitis B and the potential risks of contracting the disease when travelling to India or Pakistan, especially when visiting friends and relatives.

Only four out of 10 people previously sought advice from their GP or travel health clinic before travelling to these countries on holiday, and of those planning to travel in future, over half cited the fact that they were staying with family and friends as the reason they would be unlikely to consider seeking travel health advice beforehand.

Dr Peter Basile, Medical Advisor at GSK said, “It is worrying that some people may think they are already protected from the

disease or are lulled into a false sense of security because of the familiarity of where they are. This is simply not the case and people should be fully aware of the risks of travelling to countries where Hepatitis B is prevalent.”

The survey also showed that only 35 per cent of people knew that vaccination before travelling can protect against Hepatitis B, and only five per cent realise that vaccination should ideally happen at least one month before travelling.

Hepatitis B is a blood borne virus that attacks the liver, and in some cases can have serious consequences2, which is why prevention is important. For this reason it is recommended people get information on travel health now, a month in advance of trips they may have planned over the winter break. They can understand more about their risk by completing the risk indicator at or by visiting their GP.

Dr Basile continued, “It’s important that people don’t leave it too late to get advice on how to protect themselves against Hepatitis B before going on holiday. Although the Christmas holiday period might seem like a long way off, it is crucial people think about their health in advance to get the right protection.”

GSK’s B-Aware campaign, supported by the British Liver Trust (, is helping to provide information and tackle misconceptions about Hepatitis B. It is a serious and sometimes life threatening disease. The B-Aware campaign encourages people to see their GP or travel health consultant at least four weeks before going on their winter getaways to have a risk assessment of what their needs are. As a further support to travellers a risk indicator tool is available at, and also as a mobile App to allow users to make their own personal assessment of their risks of contracting or being exposed to the Hepatitis B.

Notes to editors:

PRESS RELEASE: Intended for distribution to Indian and Pakistani UK-based media

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

About Hepatitis B
Around 600,000 people die from Hepatitis B each year worldwide3. The disease is most likely to be spread through non-sterile injection, unprotected sex or from mother to child. But travellers should be aware that the virus can also be contracted through sharing things like razors, toothbrushes, nail clippers or earrings2,3,4. The virus can live for up to seven days in tiny specks of dried blood, and because it often does not have any symptoms to start with, people may not know they are carrying it5.

When people are visiting friends and relatives abroad they often stay for a long time, which increases their risk of requiring medical or dental attention, and then being exposed to a medical or healthcare setting where medical equipment may not be properly sterilised6.

About the B-Aware campaign
B-Aware is 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 acquiring 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 for 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.

1 Ipsos market research on behalf of GSK – data on file July 2013.
2 NaTHNaC Hepatitis B, January 2011. Last accessed 18 April 2013.
3 CDC – Hepatitis B Last accessed 18 April 2013.
4 Medline Plus Last accessed 18 April 2013.
5 WHO factsheet 204, July 2013
6 Grapevine research, commissioned by GSK – data on file June 2013.

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