- Hepatitis B is a viral infection that attacks the liver and can cause both acute and chronic disease.
- The virus is transmitted through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person.
- About 600 000 people die every year due to the consequences of hepatitis B.
- Hepatitis B is an important occupational hazard for health workers.
- Hepatitis B is preventable with the currently available safe and effective vaccine.
Hepatitis B is a potentially life-threatening liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus. It is a major global health problem. It can cause chronic liver disease and chronic infection and puts people at high risk of death from cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.
More than 240 million people have chronic (long-term) liver infections. About 600 000 people die every year due to the acute or chronic consequences of hepatitis B.
A vaccine against hepatitis B has been available since 1982. Hepatitis B vaccine is 95% effective in preventing infection and its chronic consequences, and was the first vaccine against a major human cancer.
Recent statistics about carriers in Nigeria are very staggering. Experts claim that four in 10 Nigerians may be carriers. This is most prevalent in rural areas where people have no access to medical care. In the urban area, ignorance is very high.
According Dr Joseph Onigbinde, a doctorate degree holder in Public Health, Nigerians are very ignorant and the private sector is not helping in creating awareness and education for Nigerians to know about the deadly disease and how it could be contracted. Hepatitis B is not feared like HIV/AIDS because there is no stigma attached to it. Unlike HIV/AIDS that can be detected within a short period, Hepatitis B takes up to 20-40 years before it fully manifests and once it does, the human liver would have been ravaged. Since Hepatitis B can be prevented it is better that we seek preventive measures rather a cure. In the United States, for instance, Hepatitis B has been included in their vaccination cycle. All children are expected to be vaccinated when they are a few months old. Once they are vaccinated they can never be carriers of Hepatitis B. Parents, ensure that your infants are vaccinated against Hepatitis B Virus (HBV)
To get tested in Nigeria, visit a Teaching Hospital near you or any other reliable hospital/medical laboratory within your vicinity. Please do this for your unborn generation.