Sensitization on hepatitis by SAVING WOMEN AND CHILDREN FOUNDATION

Posted  457 Views updated 11 months ago

By: Saving Women And Children Foundation

Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver. It can be caused by viruses, alcohol or substance use, exposure to toxins, and certain diseases. Viral hepatitis refers to liver inflammation caused by one of several types of viruses that attack the liver. 

Symptoms of hepatitis include the following:

Fatigue (tiredness)

General feeling of being unwell (malaise)

Flu-like symptoms (e.g., headaches, muscle aches, low-grade fever)

Lack of appetite, weight loss

Nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain

Jaundice (new or uncharacteristic yellow tinge to skin and mucus membranes)


Itching of the skin

Tea- or dark-colored urine

Pale bowel movements

A person with chronic hepatitis can remain symptom free for decades while the liver is silently damaged. 

There are various types(A,B,C,D,F) but we will focus on hepatitis B.

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a global public health challenge. Of the 2 billion persons (about a third of the world’s population) infected with HBV, about 360 million are known to be chronic carriers. Further, about a million of these infected individuals die annually mainly from hepatitis B complications including liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Sub-Saharan Africa has the second largest global burden of chronic carriers of hepatitis B infection after Asia. Though the actual burden of HBV infection in sub-Saharan Africa is not certain owing to inaccurate medical records keeping and under-reporting of cases particularly from the rural communities, which are the homes to the majority of the people.

Estimates of hepatitis B antiginaemia seroprevalence of 6–20% have been reported, making sub-Saharan Africa a hyper-endemic region. Nigeria is also a hyper-endemic country for HBV with various rates ranging from 0.5 to 44.7%.

The risk of developing chronic HBV infection commonly defined as being positive for hepatitis B surface antigenaemia (HBsAg) for greater than 6 months is inversely related to the age of acquisition of the infection. Generally the risk of chronic HBV infection is 90% following infants infected at birth while the risk is put at 30% for children infected between 1 and 5 years of age, and about 1–5% for those infected as older children and adults.

Chronic HBV infection has been associated with the risk of development of chronic liver disease in addition to hepatocellular carcinoma. Although about eight different genotypes of HBV have been reported, E genotype has been shown to be the most prevalent genotype in the sub-Saharan Africa.

HBV is highly infectious and is commonly spread by vertical transmission through mother to infant during birth, blood products, intravenous drug use, sexual contacts, scarifications/tattooing, use of shared inadequately sterilized syringes and needles and institutional care and intimate care with carriers. The hepatitis B vaccine is the mainstay of hepatitis B prevention. The hepatitis B vaccine is about 95% effective in preventing its infection.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended that all newborns receive the HBV vaccine soon after birth, preferably within the first 24 h. WHO is also working to raise awareness, promoting partnerships and mobilizing resources as well as formulating evidence-based policy and data for action and promotion of access to screening, care and treatment services to control the spread of the HBV infection.

Despite the universal HBV vaccination to all newborns in Nigeria since 2004, the prevalence of HBV among Nigerian children is still in the hyper-endemic range 

Modes of transmission include:

Sharing IDU equipment (e.g., needles, syringes, cookers, filters).

Accidental needle sticks or other breaches of the skin, especially among those whose occupations expose them to blood (e.g., medical care workers, dentists).

Unprotected sex with a partner who is infected with HBV.

An infected mother passing the virus to her infant during delivery.

Receipt of a blood transfusion or transplantation surgery from an infectious donor. 


Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent HBV infection. The  HBV vaccination is recommended for the following people:

People who are infected with HCV

People who are sexually active with or who share a household with a person with infectious HBV

Men who have sex with men (MSM)

People who inject drugs

People with occupational exposure to blood (e.g., medical care workers, dentists)

People who attend or work at institutions for people with developmental disabilities

Hemodialysis patients or those with end-stage renal disease

People who are infected with HIV

Anyone with liver disease

Anyone who lives in or travels to countries with high rates of HBV

Adults in correctional settings

The HBV vaccine is given in three doses within a 6-month period. However, the most convenient way to provide immunization is with the combined hepatitis A/hepatitis B vaccine. It is administered in three intramuscular injections on a 0-, 1-, and 6-month schedule, or may be given on an accelerated schedule of four doses, given on days 0, 7, and 21–30 with a booster dose at 12 months

In summary 

Hepatitis A

Is spread through contaminated fecal matter.

Is never chronic and rarely serious (severity and mortality may increase with age and underlying chronic liver disease).

Leads to immunity to subsequent HAV infection for individuals who have been infected and cleared the virus.

Can be prevented through vaccination, abstinence, and safe injection practices.

Hepatitis B

Is spread through blood and other body fluids.

Can be acute or chronic.

Is usually spread through IDU or sexual contact.

Can be prevented through vaccination, abstinence, and safe injection practices.

Hepatitis C

Is one of the prevalent blood-borne illness in Nigeria.

Is one of the most commonly spread in Nigeria through IDU.

Becomes chronic in 75 percent to 85 percent of people who are infected.

Can take decades to develop symptoms.

No vaccine is available, but abstinence and safe injection practices can prevent transmission.

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