Hepatitis-free Future: It is possible

Hepatitis is a condition in which the liver gets inflammed (swollen). This is mainly caused by the Hepatitis Viruses which include Hepatitis A to E.

Hepatitis A and E Viruses are transmitted through the feco-oral route (from consumption of food or water infected with feces of an infected person thus are mostly common in overcrowded areas with poor sanitary conditions.

On the other hand, Hepatitis B, C and are transmitted perinatally (from mother to child) and this is the focus of this year’s World Hepatitis Day.

The aim is to reduce infection among pregnant mothers and prevent infection of children hence the theme, Hepatitis-free future.

Hepatitis B and C is also gotten through contact with the blood of an infected person.

Hepatitis B can also be transmitted through sexual intercourse thus, it is considered as a sexually transmitted disease.

Dealing With Infections Among Couples

Individuals infected with Hepatitis tend to have the virus in their blood, saliva, and vaginal fluids or semen, which makes them ‘carriers’ of the infection, and can spread it to others.

In a relationship or marriage, infected persons can pass the infection to their healthy partner through sexual intercourse.

Does this mean that those with Hepatitis cannot get married? Absolutely not.

The first step is for the infected person to inform his or her partner of their status beforehand, so there can be proper understanding and agreement on adequate preventive measures to be taken to avoid transmission.

Sharing of items like razors and toothbrushes should be avoided, to prevent spreading the infection.

The next step is to ensure that the healthy partner is vaccinated against Hepatitis, especially in the case of Hepatitis B. Once vaccination is carried out, the issue of getting infected is no more a problem.

Hepatitis C has no vaccine, but it is rarely transmitted through sex and is not considered an STD.

Fortunately, majority of Hepatitis C cases are curable, but treatment should begin early and must be followed consistently to prevent progression of the disease and further damage.

Hepatitis In Pregnancy

Hepatitis B and C can be transmitted from Mother to child (Perinatal route).

it is important that a pregnant mother positive for Hepatitis is given antiviral therapy and closely monitored for antibody levels to determine her infective status. (determines risk of transmission to the baby)

Once delivery occurs, a specific type of Immunoglobulin (Antibody) that is different from the normal vaccine is administered to the baby to block any chances of progression of the disease.

Standard precautions must be taken by the medical personnel to avoid getting themselves infected during the delivery process or while taking care of the mother.

Importance of Testing

The importance of getting tested for Hepatitis can not be overemphasized, as the disease can go unnoticed in a person for a long period of time, causing silent destruction. 

Interestingly, Hepatitis medications are costly and require consistency for months or even years in order to suppress the effects of the disease.

If Hepatitis is detected early, affordable treatment can be commenced immediately to ensure it does not get worse.

Treatment gets more expensive as the disease progresses. The treatment may also have some side effects such as exhaustion and depression, which can be managed.

Please visit the nearest Hospital or well-equipped Medical Diagnostic Lab to get yourself tested for Hepatitis.

Ensure that you and members of your family get vaccinated against the virus to ensure your safety.

Be part of a Hepatitis-free future. It is possible.

HealthyNaija

Emmanuel Elebesunu