A gastroenterologist consultant from Ahamadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria, Dr. Bello Kumo said that Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) is more infectious than HIV.
Kumo said this in a paper entitled “Face to Face with Hepatitis B: Cost and Burden”, presented at a public lecture organised by Kashim Ibrahim Fellows (KIF) in Kaduna on Thursday.
The consultant, who expressed concern that not many people have knowledge about the disease, added that multitude of patients were not identified early enough and managed.
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.
According to him, there is no known cure for chronic HBV, stressing that prevention remains the best option.
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.”
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 sensitization and scaling-up of screening services.”
Gov Nasir El-Rufa’i of Kaduna State commended KIF for organizing 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.