A medical practitioner, Dr. Joseph Onigbinde, has said that Hepatitis B virus kills faster than the Human-immunodeficiency virus and the Acquired Immunodeficiency syndrome.
Onigbinde, who spoke at a screening programme at the Ropheka Hospital and Dental Clinic, Akowonjo, Lagos, as part of activities to mark the World Hepatitis Day on Sunday, said the virus was ravaging Nigerians because many were ignorant of its mode of transmission.
He said Hepatitis B, which is said to be 10 times more infectious than HIV/AIDS, could stay in the human body for up to 40 years before manifesting. Wow.
Onigbinde said, “It is usually late for people to detect their Hepatitis B status because it might not have any obvious symptom in most instances. The virus ravages the liver and the only way to tell if you have Hepatitis B is by undergoing screening.”
He explained that the virus, when detected early in young persons could be treated effectively with drugs.
“Hepatitis B carriers still have high hopes of survival because the disease is treatable provided too much damage to the liver cells has not occurred. It can also be prevented using vaccines,” he said.
Also, the National President, Nigerian Medical Association, Dr. Osahon Enabulele, has called on government to include liver failure treatment into the list of diseases covered under the National Health Insurance Scheme.
Enabulele, in a statement on Monday, said since most Nigerians who have chronic hepatitis B or C infections were not aware of it, the risk of developing liver diseases, the end result of this infection, is very high in the country.
He said, “About one million people die each year from causes related to viral hepatitis, most commonly from liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. Hepatitis B and C are blood-borne diseases and most people with chronic infection are unaware that they carry the virus, and they also transmit the virus unknowingly to other people because of their lack of awareness.”
Enabulele added that to reduce rates of infections, government must increase hepatitis B vaccine coverage by producing it locally.