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Poor awareness, late presentation affect hepatitis in Nigeria – expert

An infectious disease expert has stated that hepatitis, a viral infections of the liver, is not adequately diagnosed due to poor awareness about the disease…

An infectious disease expert has stated that hepatitis, a viral infections of the liver, is not adequately diagnosed due to poor awareness about the disease and late presentation to the hospital.

Nigeria, with an estimated population of over 200 million people, has a Hepatitis B prevalence of 8.1 percent and Hepatitis C at 1.1 percent, based on a 2020 Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) report.

According to the world health organisation (WHO), 10 percent of people who have chronic infection with hepatitis B virus are diagnosed, and 22 percent of which receive treatment.

In a chat with an infectious disease expert at the Lagos University teaching hospital (LUTH), Dr Oluwafemi Akinpeloye to commemorate the World hepatitis Day on July 28, he noted that many patients do not even know they have hepatitis.

“In tertiary institutions there are gastroenterologists who specialise in managing liver diseases. Due to unavailability of health care facilities that can cater for this patients in the rural areas and suburbs many of them do not get treatment and some die of complications of the disease without even knowing it was hepatitis.

“Many of these patients are discovered when they present to medical facilities and are really sick and hence we ask for a barrage of investigations and coincidentally find a patient positive for hepatitis. Some are aware of their hepatitis status but many are not,” he commented.