Dr Olumuyiwa Balogun-Oluwa, the Deputy Medical Director of Ijede General Hospital in Ikorodu, Lagos State, has advised Nigerians to go for hepatitis test to ensure early detection of the virus.
He gave the advice in an interview with newsmen on Monday in Lagos.
He said that hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver, is deadly, and it is categorised into Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E.
Hepatitis A is a viral liver disease that can cause mild to severe illness, caused by the Hepatitis A Virus (HAV), transmitted through ingestion of contaminated food and water or through direct contact with an infected person.
Almost everyone recovers fully from hepatitis A with a lifelong immunity.
Hepatitis B, also a liver infection, is caused by a virus called the Hepatitis B Virus (HBV). It can be serious and has no cure but it is easy to prevent by getting the Hepatitis B vaccine and having safer sex.
Hepatitis C, which is caused by the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) is transmitted through direct contact with infected body fluids, typically through injection drug use and sexual contact, while Hepatitis D, also called delta hepatitis, is a serious liver disease caused by the Hepatitis D virus (HDV) contracted through direct contact with infected blood.
Hepatitis E is a waterborne disease caused by the Hepatitis E Virus (HEV), mainly found in areas with poor sanitation and typically results from ingesting fecal matter that contaminates the water supply.
The medical director, therefore, added that “the world should not be afraid of HIV, rather, they should be scared of hepatitis because it is highly contagious.
“To find the missing millions of people living with hepatitis, people need to go for test, know their status and get vaccinated.
“Through research, medications are coming up to help manage the virus or combat the hepatitis scourge.”
Balogun-Oluwa explained that the signs and symptoms of hepatitis could take up to 10 to 15 years to manifest, which would have resulted in severe liver damage.
He added that “the symptoms at this stage include jaundice, loss of weight, pains in the upper right flang and weakness.”
He urged pregnant women to check their status in order not to infect their unborn babies with the virus.
The deputy medical director also urged mothers to ensure that their babies were vaccinated immediately after birth.