The Ministry of Health is to ban hepatitis B testing during compulsory health checks for employment and education, mainland media reported yesterday. The move will be a significant victory for activists who have been fighting a long-running battle with discrimination against hepatitis B carriers on the mainland. Cui Fuqiang, director of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention's hepatitis division under the national immunisation programme, told the Chengdu Evening News that the ministry was preparing to order all health centres to stop including a test for the virus in blood tests carried out for standard health checks. Dr Cui told the paper that there was 'no scientific evidence to suggest that carriers would have any effect on the health of people they came into contact with in their daily lives', but it could easily lead to them being discriminated against by their employers, schools or preschools. 'There is also no reason for someone to give up their job or isolate themselves from strangers on the basis of this test,' he said. Dr Cui's comments came just a day after the ministry announced plans to ban kindergartens from turning away children who were hepatitis B carriers, as long as their livers still function normally. Extensive health tests are compulsory on the mainland for those entering kindergarten or university, and when applying for a job. The mainland has one of the world's highest infection rates for hepatitis B, with an estimated 100 million carriers. Lu Jun, a prominent activist in the campaign to end discrimination against hepatitis B carriers, welcomed the news, which he called a 'nice surprise'. 'If this policy does come about, it will be the fruition of everything we have been fighting for, for so many years,' he said. 'The government's policy has been so wrong for such a long time that this would be a great step forward.' He said he expected the new policy could be introduced 'within a month' if the Ministry of Health was committed to making the change. 'Discrimination against hepatitis B carriers is much too commonplace at present, and something has to be done about it,' he said. 'An official survey in 2005 found that 52 per cent of carriers said they had been denied access to university or a job because of the virus. 'There needs to be better education to increase awareness about hepatitis B, as the problem is mostly due to ignorance or misunderstanding of the disease.' Hepatitis B is a potentially fatal viral infection of the liver. However, unlike hepatitis A, it is not transmitted through close person-to-person contact but requires the transfer of bodily fluids, similar to HIV. 'Common modes of transmission include mother-to-infant, child-to-child, unsafe injection practices, blood transfusions and sexual contact,' the World Health Organisation website states. There is no known cure for the condition, but vaccination is a preventive measure.