Country Director, African Nation’s Development Programmes (ANDP), Ifeanyichukwu Eze, says no fewer than 19 million Nigerians are affected by hepatitis B virus.
Eze disclosed this at a road walk to commemorate the 2017 World Hepatitis day with the theme “Eliminate hepatitis “Say no to hepatitis, know your status’’ attributed the figure to the research conducted by the Federal Ministry of Health.
According to the country director, viral hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver, is caused by one or more of the five major hepatitis viruses known as types A, B,C and E.
“The preliminary studies done by the Federal Ministry of Health in 2013 revealed that we have 19 million Nigerians effected by hepatitis B,’’ he said.
He said hepatitis B and C were the most prevalent and most deadly but that all the viruses had the potential to cause liver disease.
Eze says, “Hepatitis B and C in Nigeria are the major causes of chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and the second leading cancer mortality, worldwide.
“Hepatitis B is a vaccine preventable disease that is 50 to 100 times more infectious than HIV and is transmitted through exposure to infectious blood, semen and other fluids.
This is transmitted vertically from infected mothers and unsafe sexual intercourse.
“It can as well be transmitted through the transfusion of Hepatitis B Virus infected blood (HBV), unsafe medical procedures, sharing of needles among injection drug users and horizontally between children.
“HBV is not a curable disease, however antiviral treatment has been shown to reduce the risk of transmission, the possibility of developing complications and death’’.
Dr Adoration Chigere, Director of Programmes, Golden Cross Agency, an NGO, who described hepatitis B as a silent killer said it did not have any symptoms.
He also said people with hepatitis virus were unaware that they had been infected.
Chigere identified symptoms of the virus to include fever, feeling tired, not wanting to eat, stomach upset, throwing up, dark urine, grey coloured stool, joint pain and yellow skin and eye.
The director of programmes described symptoms of hepatitis as common with other illnesses.
According to her, the only way to determine hepatitis B virus is through blood testing or screening.