Effects of hepatitis on the liver


Hepatitis is a viral disease that causes inflammation of the liver and medical experts are stressing the need for Nigerians to be aware of the disease, especially hepatitis C.
Unfortunately, while experts preach prevention of hepatitis, many Nigerians carriers are not even aware that they have been infected with this virus.
It is against this backdrop that the Society for Gastroenterology and Hepatology in Nigeria was formed in 2007, as a professional body, comprising of Nigerian physicians, surgeons, pathologists and allied health professionals, dedicated to the advancement of knowledge on the recognition, prevention, investigation and treatment of liver diseases.
According to SOGHIN, Hepatitis B virus is 50 to100 times more infectious than Human Immunodeficiency Virus and it is estimated that over two billion people are infected worldwide and approximately one million deaths occur annually from HBV related illnesses.
SOGHIM confirmed that studies carried out in Nigeria have revealed that hepatitis B infection in most Nigerian cities is up to an average of 13 per cent, translating to an estimated 20 million people infected. Several studies have also revealed that about 170 million people are infected with hepatitis C virus.
This means that at least, one out of every 10 Nigerians is a chronic carrier of hepatitis B, and is not only at risk of liver diseases and death, but also at the risk of transmitting it to others.
A source, who pleaded anonymity, told The Point that she was diagnosed of hepatitis C early this year, adding, “I was lucky, that I went for checkup. I was not aware I had been infected with hepatitis C virus.”
She added that after her mum died of cancer three years ago, she h a s cultivated the habit of going for medical checkup at the hospital, at least twice in a year.
“Since my mother died three years ago due to cancer, the doctors told us then that the cancer had spread across her body and that had they discovered it at the early stage, they would have been able to treat her. I made up my mind after that to always go to the hospital for periodic medical checkup.”
The source added that she was given medication and after she took the medication, she was cured. “I took the prescribed medication by the doctor, and that was it. I went for another test and it was gone.”
She encouraged Nigerians to visit hospitals regularly for checkups and not wait until they are knocked down with any disease.
A medical practitioner at Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital, Ile Ife, Dr. Adekunle Adeyemo, said virus is the cause of both hepatitis B and C.
“They can persist in the liver, leading to chronic liver disease, like liver cirrhosis and cancers,” he said.
He also added that they are both transmitted by transfusion, like sex, mother to child and use of infected needles or skin piercing devices.
He said, “There is treatment available for infected or exposed people. Also there is vaccine against hepatitis B. I am not aware of a vaccine for hepatitis C.” Consultant physician and gastroenterologist at Healthgate Specialist Clinic, Lagos, Dr. Ebere Anomneze said there is only one cause of hepatitis C, which is hepatitis C virus.
“The transmission is just like HIV, which is through injection, blood transfusion, traumatic sexual exposure, and mother to child (during child birth).” Relatives of hepatitis C patients can also be infected, if they share the same syringe, Anomneze added. Talking about the treatment, he said, “There is no vaccine for hepatitis C in Nigeria, but there is vaccine for hepatitis A and B. Patients with hepatitis C are treated with tablets these days, with about 100 percent cure rate of hepatitis C.”
World Health Organisation recorded that viral hepatitis affects 400 million people globally and, given the size of the epidemic, anyone and everyone can be at risk. WHO estimated that 95 percent of people with hepatitis are unaware of their infection.
Hepatitis tests are complex and can be costly, with poor laboratory capacity in many countries.
According to WHO, appropriate treatment of hepatitis B and C can prevent the development of major life-threatening complications of chronic liver disease; like cirrhosis and liver cancer.