HEPATITIS B VIRUS (HBV)

This is a blood-borne infection. The hepatitis B virus causes a long- standing (chronic) infection. It also gives rise to hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer), which is a notorious cancer that kills within approximately six months of diagnosis.

HBV infection is about TEN TIMES more infectious than HIV.

Humans are the only source of infection.

How is it transmitted?

Via any of the following:

  1. Transfusion of unscreened blood or blood products
  2. From a carrier mother to the baby
  3. Sexual intercourse- heterosexual or homosexual
  4. Repeated use of hypodermic needles without sterilization; such as by intravenous drug addicts; tattooing; ritual scarification
  5. Discharge from skin ulcers
  6. Some jobs or sports that are injury-associated

 

Symptoms:

It may not show any symptoms especially in those who are carriers.

There may be yellowness of the eyes, passage of dark urine and pale stool.

However, laboratory investigations are important for accurate diagnosis.

 

Prevention

  • Proper screening of blood and blood products
  • Do not share needles
  • Ensure hygiene practices
  • Vaccination

HBV infection should not be treated with levity as it has the potential to become chronic and complications may follow.

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