Almost everyone knows or at least has heard about the HIV virus and the fact that it is incurable and
all that. It has enjoyed media attention and a significant level of awareness has been created. About 8million Nigerians live with HIV and a decline in the prevalence rate has been recorded for a couple of years now.
There is another viral disease affecting more than twice the number of Nigerians affected by HIV, more infectious than HIV but less known and less talked about and unlike HIV it is totally vaccine preventable.
Hepatitis is what I am talking about and it refers to a group of viral infections that affect the liver. There are 5 types A,B,C,D and E. Hepatitis B and C are of the greatest concern of which B is the deadliest.
Hepatitis B affects 20 million Nigerians (1 in 8 Nigerians) but awareness is abysmally low. Most people that have it are not aware and it can be in the body for decades without causing any symptoms until the liver’s function has been greatly compromised.
It is the commonest cause of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. It is transmitted through blood (sharing sharp objects, transfusion of infected blood, unsafe injections) and through sexual intercourse.
The good news is that it is preventable by vaccination and was included in Nigeria’s routine childhood immunization in the early 2000s but most adults are not immunized.
The earlier it is detected, the better the overall outcome for the individual and long term complications can be avoided.
Have you gone for Hepatitis B screening and have you gone for hepatitis B immunization? Please do share your experience in the comments.