Friday, July 19, 2013

Adequate public awareness can be a great way to fight hepatitis

Experts have called for adequate public awareness on the prevention and treatment of hepatitis in Nigeria especially given that vaccination of children is one of the preventive measures aimed at tackling hepatitis and that early vaccination is a key to preventing hepatitis.

The increasing number of liver cancer cases in Nigeria has resulted from undetected and untreated hepatitis. 
Hepatitis B virus is transmitted between people through direct blood to blood contact or semen and vaginal fluid of an infected person. Modes of transmission are the same as those for HIV, but the Hepatitis B virus is 50 to 100 times more infectious as it can survive outside the body for at least seven days. During this time, the virus can still cause infection if it enters the body of a person who is not protected by the vaccine.

Since Hepatitis B has acute and chronic stages with few or no symptoms during the former stage. If acute hepatitis is not treated as soon as possible, it can cause chronic liver infection that can later develop into liver cancer.

Also, prevention of hepatitis was cheaper than its treatment, given the fact that liver transplant is very expensive and very difficult to obtain. Although people with chronic Hepatitis B could be treated with medicine especially alternative medicine; the treatment could cost thousands of dollars per year and also the medicine are not available in many developing countries.

It is also advised that people with high risk of sexual behaviour, injecting drug users and people at occupational risk of Hepatitis B virus infection such as health workers should be vaccinated. Through awareness campaign people should be told that they should avoid sharing sharp objects and toothbrushes; not even couples, as they are at a high risk of getting infected. People should also get tested regularly, so that if they have the disease, they can be treated early before it degenerates into the chronic stage. Mothers should vaccinate their children at birth as prenatal transmission was common among them.


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