Opinion

Darasimi Oshodi: Deadlier Than HIV, Hepatitis B

The World Hepatitis Day was recently observed. So this post is my own way of contributing to the sensitisation on Hepatitis.

The First Service in my church on Sunday is tagged ‘Empowerment Service’, where issues like entrepreneurship, academics, health, wealth, purpose, etc., are addressed. At one of our services, a medical doctor, spoke on the deadliness of Hepatitis infection and its prevalence in Nigeria. A staggering revelation the speaker made was that Hepatitis infection is deadlier than HIV and costlier to manage. Hepatitis B, he said, is incurable while Hepatitis C can be treated but can you imagine spending 30,000 naira per week on treatment for 48 consecutive weeks? That should be around 200 dollars per week. Please try to calculate what that amounts to.

How many people in Nigeria can afford such a treatment? It is however surprising to know that vaccination for this disease is not supposed to be more than 1000 naira (that should be around 7 dollars) and I want to hazard a guess that many people are not aware of this. What is painful about this disease is the fact it is prevalent in Nigeria and many people are ignorant about it. How many Nigerians have died from Hepatitis infection with the death attributed to something else?

How many Nigerian are carrying the virus around now? We may not know. I believe that our society should embark on an aggressive drive to sensitise and vaccinate people against this deadly disease. The Hepatitis infection is an inflammation affecting the liver. It can be contagious or non-contagious. It can also be fulminant. I looked up ‘fulminant’ in the dictionary and I got these meanings: coming on suddenly and with great severity; (of a disease or symptom) severe and sudden in onset. This means Hepatitis infection can come upon one suddenly with very severe effects. Some cases of Hepatitis infection may give you signs, some may not. There are different types of Hepatitis: A, B, C, D, E… Some of the symptoms of Hepatitis infection are: passage of dark urine, yellowing of the eyes (jaundice), abdominal discomfort on the right side, weight loss, easy bruising, bleeding tendencies, swelling, and it can be contracted through blood transfusion, sex, seminal fluids, etc.

I came across the following facts about hepatitis B virus by Iprodigy Group Nigeria:

1. Despite there being a vaccine, Hepatitis B Virus(HBV) infection kills one person every 30-45 seconds.

2. Most of the people who are infected (almost two-thirds) are unaware of their infection and this has resulted in the silent HBV infection becoming one of the biggest threat to the health of the world.

3. HBV is about 10 times more prevalent than HIV infection worldwide. HIV is more prevalent in Africa, HPV is more prevalent in Asia.

4. The general perception is that HIV virus is very infectious and contagious however Hepatitis B Virus is 100 times more infectious than HIV.

5. If not properly monitored or treated HBV infection can kill 25% of the infected people due to liver cancer or liver failure from cirrhosis.

6. Hepatitis C is caused by another lethal virus like HBV and infects about 180 million people worldwide. There is no cure from this infection and there is no vaccine that has been developed.

7. HBV and Hepatitis C together have infected 530 million of the 6 billion people worldwide.

8. Pregnant women who have hepatitis B infection or those who are carriers of hepatitis B virus can pass this infection to their babies when they are born.

9. Individuals with high risk of infection with HBV include – illegal injection of drugs, haemophiliacs, homosexual and bisexual males, sexually active heterosexual persons with multiple partners, prisoners, patients on haemodialysis, health care staff who have needle stick injury and people who indulge in body piercing and tattooing. Certain world population have a higher incidence and include – Alaskan Eskimos, Pacific Islanders, Haitian and Indo-chinese immigrants. Travellers to these regions should take all the precautions.

10. Hepatitis B recombinant vaccine is a very safe vaccine as it has no human blood or blood products and it is produced by genetic re-engineering process and usually requires three injections for protection over a six months period.

My advice to you is to go for Hepatitis test, if you haven’t done that. And if you test negative, please go for vaccination against this disease. If you test positive, please seek medical advice immediately.

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Darasimi Oshodi is a blogger. Read his blogs at darasimioshodi.blogspot.com… Follow him on twitter @Aristotle274

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