When I heard that I was infected with the hepatitis B virus. It followed all sorts of things, about how I could have gotten the hepatitis b virus, knowing there was no case of hepatitis in my family.
I started doing research to see how I could have come in contact with the virus, blood transfusions -no, sexual contact – I was too young, drugs, no.
That was the beginning of Manuela’s story and how she later conquered the drama associated with being infected with hepatitis B Virus. More of the remaining story will come up as you read on. In this write up I shall be writing about hepatitis B and sometimes will mention hepatitis C. Welcome to a blissful read.
What is hepatitis B? and C? They are viruses that cause hepatitis (red, swollen, painful liver whose function is reducing drastically). They have many things in common especially in their mode of transmission however hepatitis C has a cure while B does not have. Both can lead to liver cancer.
How is hepatitis B transmitted? More like the way HIV Is transmitted with just a few exemptions . Hepatitis B is primarily found in the blood of an infected person. Whatever at all that leads to mixing of blood can lead to the transmission of hepatitis B and C even.
Let go back to Manuela’s story and see how she must have contacted hers. She said….
……It then dawned on me that unsterilized medical equipment was the most likely scenario of how I contracted hepatitis B as a child when I had dental surgery and injectable treatment for the relief of an allergic situation.
Gbam! That’s it, when passing through any surgical procedure we must ensure that all instruments are sterilized.. Hence, a standard hospital should be the place you will choose for such a procedure.
How can we prevent hepatitis B?
1. If you are positive and pregnant, register for antenatal on time and let your doctor know, he will take it up from there. An immunoglobulin will be given to your child soon after birth.
2. Avoid unprotected sex.
3. Stop sharing needles or any other sharp objects – clippers.
4. Ensure you go for surgical procedure in a standardised hospital setting. Casual D&C must really stop.
5. If you must collect blood, ensure the health centre screens the blood.
6. Get vaccinated. Very important, with 3 shots, you are protected for life. This is very important for people whose sexual partners are positive.
7. Ensure your baby is vaccinated at birth, 6weeks and at 14 weeks.
There is no evidence to show that hepatitis B is transmitted via kissing, sharing of toilet or spoons or breastfeeding. However one must threads cautiously. Living with hepatitis B can be burdensome but I tell you that people are coping and meeting up with the requirements.
It may require a series of testing, medications and biopsies (taking some of the liver tissue for test) if need be. Everyone should consider going for a test because it can be controlled and slowed down if detected early. Please get tested.
What if I am positive, what do I do?
- Ensure you register in a teaching hospital where you will be monitored by a gastroenterologist (special doctors for liver, stomach and intestine)
- 2. Ensure you follow all your doctor’s clinic regimen and take your medications.
- 3. Ensure your partner is tested and vaccinated if negative.
Let’s go back to Manuela’s story.
……..From the very beginning I informed my family about my situation, which motivated them to get tested and get vaccinated where necessary.
My partner and my current husband was tested, he was not afraid, he informed himself and had been vaccinated; he was and has been a real support during this adventure; because from the moment you find out you’re infected it is like a “contract” you sign with the doctor.
Yes, that’s it and your compliance with your doctor says a lot about your success.
What are the complications of hepatitis B?
1. Liver failure.
2. Liver cirrhosis (hardening).
3. Liver cancer.
What is the survival rate? It depends on how early it was detected and how slow it is the progression of the disease. Being managed by a specialist and taking your medications and tests can slow it down.
Precautionary measures for those who are positive.
1. Avoid eating food with mould, like a 3day old bread or EBA that’s growing mould.
2. Stop taking alcohol and tobacco.
3. Reduce your intake of nuts generally.
4. Attend clinics regularly and follow your doctor’s prescriptions.
5. Avoid eating cold food.
6. Say No to herbal concoction.
7. Say No to self medications.
Well, let’s see the end of the story we have been telling. After all the said and done…she was seen by a liver specialist who continued to monitor her….
I lived a healthy and quiet lifestyle. I have two wonderful children, a healthy 8 year old boy and a 5 year old girl, thanks to a hepatitis B immunoglobulin vaccine for the new born babies and now I know my children are fully protected. I am now fortunate to say, I’m living a normal life with my family. I do attend my regular check-ups and I continue living a “balanced” life.
That’s it, get tested and start treatment on time. You can still live a normal life. If you are negative, then get vaccinated then you are protected for life.
Dr. Bolanle Aderehinwo.