In a recent news report, Dr. Adiri Winfred, a consultant Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist at the Godfrey Okoye University Teaching Hospital (GOUNTH) in Enugu, highlighted the alarming infectiousness of Hepatitis B Virus (HBV), which is reportedly 100 times more infectious than HIV. The warning was delivered during an educational event organized by GOUNTH and sponsored by Emzor Vaccines to commemorate the “2023 World Hepatitis Day” with the theme “One Life, One Liver”.
At the event, free Hepatitis tests were offered to Enugu residents, aiming to raise awareness about the dangers of Hepatitis B and C. Dr. Winfred emphasized that Hepatitis B is particularly dangerous as it currently has no cure, and its treatment mainly focuses on reducing the virus in the patient’s system.
She explained that the available drugs cannot fully eradicate the virus since it integrates into the patient’s DNA, making complete eradication difficult. However, these drugs can help reduce the viral load, preventing liver cirrhosis and liver cancer, which have become significant health concerns in the region.
Dr. Winfred also highlighted the various transmission routes for Hepatitis B, including exposure to infected blood, sexual contact, and other body fluids. It can also be transmitted from infected mothers to their infants during childbirth, from family members to infants in early childhood, through contaminated blood transfusions, contaminated medical injections, and even through the use of shared sharp objects and clippers.
Common symptoms of acute and chronic hepatitis B include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, light-colored stools, joint pain, and jaundice.
To prevent the spread of the virus, Dr. Winfred stressed the importance of hepatitis B vaccination for Nigerians.
The Chief Medical Director of GOUNTH, Prof Cajethan Nwadinigwe, also mentioned that the event was a partnership/public enlightenment and Screening program.