Bello Kumo, a consultant gastroenterologist with the Ahamadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH), Zaria, has warned that the Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) is more infectious than Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
Kumo made the statement during a paper presentation titled “Face to Face with Hepatitis B: Cost and Burden”, at a public lecture organised by Kashim Ibrahim Fellows (KIF) in Kaduna on Thursday.
He expressed concerns that not many people have knowledge about HBV and that many patients are not being identified early enough for proper management.
The gastroenterologist also said the virus could be transmitted through contact with blood and other body fluids. He added that people could also get infected through the use of sharp objects and open wounds of those who suffer from the virus.
According to him, there is no known cure for chronic HBV but prevention remains the best option. He advised that people ensure they know their status and get vaccinated if tested negative.
“To prevent, people must first know their status so that if they are negative, they can be vaccinated, which gives up to 95 per cent prevention. Those who tested positive can begin treatment and managing the virus to avoid its spread,” he said.
Muhammad Saleh, medical doctor, described HBV as a silent killer, stressing the need for massive awareness campaign.
Saleh said in his lecture on “Hepatitis B: Finding the Missing Millions”, that not much would be achieved if infected persons were not located and placed on treatment.
He noted that “HBV has been silently ravaging the country’s population. There is need for prevention through awareness, community sensitisation and scaling-up of screening services.”
Hepatitis B is a life-threatening liver infection caused by the HBV. It is a major global health problem that can cause chronic infection and put people at high risk of death from cirrhosis and liver cancer.