Why Hepatitis B may be more dangerous than HIV, says expert

A consultant Gastroenterologist with the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Bello Kumo, says many people overlook the danger of chronic Hepatitis B, describing the virus as more infectious than even the dreaded HIV.

In a paper titled: “Face to Face with Hepatitis B: Cost and Burden”, presented at a public lecture organised by Kashim Ibrahim Fellows (KIF) in Kaduna on Thursday, Dr. Kumo explained that there is no known cure for chronic HBV, stressing that prevention remains the best option.

He explained that the virus could be transmitted through contact with blood and body fluid, adding that it could infect nearly everyone that came into contact with anyone suffering from it through sharp objects and open wounds.

He added that “but 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.

“And those who tested positive can begin treatment and managing the virus to avoid its spread.”

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Dr Muhammad Saleh, a 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.”

Gov Nasir El-Rufa’i of Kaduna State commended KIF for organising the lecture, saying that the efforts would give people living with HBV a voice and raise the needed awareness on prevention.

El-Rufa’i, who was represented by his Deputy, Dr Hadiza Balarabe, said HBV had been neglected for long, overlooked by governments and misunderstood by the public.