Hepatitis B Is Transmitted Via Body Fluids, Sexual Contact | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Hepatitis B Is Transmitted Via Body Fluids, Sexual Contact

Posted: Aug 3, 2016 at 1:42 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

•Many Unware – Researchers
Chioma Umeha

Lagos-Increased public awareness on Hepatitis B is critical to eliminating the disease, Prof. Innocent Ujah, former Director-General (DG) of Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Yaba, said weekend.
Ujah, represented by the institute’s Director of Research and Clinical Services, Dr. Nkiruka Odunukwe, said this at the commemoration of this year’s World Hepatitis Day, organised by the institution in Lagos.
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, says: “Hepatitis is a disease of the liver characterised by the presence of inflammatory cells in the tissue of the organ.
“It may occur without symptoms, but can lead to jaundice (a yellow discoloration of the skin, mucous membranes, and conjunctiva of the eyes), poor appetite, and fatigue.’’
Speaking on this year’s theme – ‘Elimination,’ Ujah said: “We all know that Hepatitis B in Nigeria is a public health issue and we need to eliminate it; how do we eliminate it?
“It is by increasing awareness, informing the public that it exists and can cause cancer of the liver and actually spells death for people infected.”
Ujah said that NIMR could boast of well-equipped laboratories for the diagnosis of the virus and had been diagnosing people that were infected.
“We have a very big programme of screening the masses to know those who are infected and those who are not.
“For those who are infected, we have specialised clinics to manage them, so that they will have a good quality of life.
“And those who are uninfected, we have a programme on ground to make sure that they do not get infected and that is vaccination,” he said.
The director said that no fewer than 5,000 people diagnosed with the disease were being treated and managed at the institution’s specialised clinic.
According to him, most of them are now having very low and undetected Hepatitis B virus, which is a step towards elimination of the virus.
Also speaking, a Consultant Gastroenterologist, Dr. Charles Onyekwere, said that many people were still unaware of the routes through which the virus was contacted.
Onyekwere  who is the Head of the Gastroenterology Department, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja said: “People need a lot of information about the disease, because information is power; they need to know the routes through which it is being contacted.
“And they also need to know the practices to imbibe to prevent getting the infection and they also need to know their status in order to take appropriate measures,” he said.
The expert urged people to imbibe a healthy lifestyle and be aware of the routes through which Hepatitis B could be contacted.
“Hepatitis B can be contacted through body fluids, sexually or sharing sharp objects or through other unhealthy practices,’’ Onyekwere said.
In her remarks, the Head of the NIMR Human Virology Laboratory, Dr. Rosemary Audu, urged people to screen for the disease and get vaccinated, once the test revealed a negative result.
“Hepatitis B is a silent killer; people may have it for years without even knowing, until it gets to the last stage.
“So, I will not recommend that people should wait to see symptoms before they go for screening.
“If you are negative, get vaccinated and if you are positive, see a physician for proper management,” she advised.