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Hepatitis B a Threat To South Sudan

The emergence of the infectious virus of Hepatitis B (HBV) in South Sudan threatens the wellbeing of the young nation. Hepatitis B is a cancerous virus that causes inflammation of the liver. Chronic (long-lasting) Hepatitis B virus can cause liver cell damage, which can lead to cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) and possibly cancer.

Death resulting from Hepatitis B. cases is on the increase lately. Hepatitis B is a dangerous virus, which could easily spread through the population by various means. It is transmitted through direct contact with blood or semen or secretion. There are people who have already been infected with the cancerous virus. Some may be aware of their status (infection) yet others could be oblivious of its existence in their blood cell and possibly spreading it to others without knowledge of it. Hepatitis B can be transmitted through unprotected sex or oral sex. In adolescents and adults, this is the most common mode of transmission. It can also be transmitted through sharing needles or other sharp equipment contaminated with HBV-infected blood. “HBV is found in transmittable levels in body fluids including semen, vaginal secretions, saliva, and blood. HBV has also been found in low concentrations in other body fluids, though these fluids have NOT been associated with transmission: tears; urine; feces; breast milk; cerebrospinal fluid. Hepatitis B is not spread through food or water or by casual contact”, Health Clinic.

Although tattooing, body piercing, and acupuncture (pricking skin) needles may transmit hepatitis B, these exposures account for only a small proportion of reported cases.

Hepatitis B virus is rarely transmitted through saliva, but can be transmitted through bites. However, transmission has not been documented to occur as a result of other types of exposure to saliva as a result of kissing.

I came to learn that South Sudan is one of the countries highly infested with Hepatitis B virus after witnessing its victims dying of the disease. A chat I had with a friend of mine who happened to be a medical doctor gave me a reason to research and write on the topic. When I got struck by Pneumonia and had to be admitted in one of Kenyan’s Hospitals, I helplessly watched a young South Sudanese soul struggling to survive as the virus spread to his liver. David (not his real name) struggled to live but the virus overwhelmed him and he died. I asked the doctor concerned and what he told me he was scary. He said that every time he sees five patients from South Sudan two out of five (5) patients are carriers of HB virus. A doctor who is also well informed on the subject says that this dangerous virus is a real threat to the wellbeing of the sexually active people. 

My friend who is also a doctor once told me that if hundred (100) persons infected with the virus are put in one place thirty (30) out of hundred would definitely die of the disease. There are also those who carry the virus but never die of it but could spread it to others who may die of the virus. Those who are infected with the virus and eventually live with it for longer period are known as chronic Hepatitis B. or as carriers

If one of the married partners is infected and the other is not the type that can’t clear the virus, he or she may die within six months. If one of the partners is one that clears his or her immune system clears it he/she would never get affected by the virus. Medical experts recommend that one gets check up and be get vaccination against Hepatitis B. if result shows negative. But if one is already infected it is no use vaccinating against the virus because it will not undo the damage. 

There are treatments for Hepatitis B. other than vaccination.

Before you get vaccination against Hepatitis B. your doctor should determine first a) if your sexual partner has chronic hepatitis B and if you are not infected. b) If your immune system is compromised (for instance, if you are living with AIDS). c) If your job exposes you to human blood and d) if you were born to an HBV-positive mother. If one is living with HIV/Aids or already infected with Hepatitis B. the vaccine would not work on him or her. 

Mothers who have hepatitis B can pass it on to their babies at birth. Therefore, medical experts also recommend that expectant mothers get proper attention while delivering so as to protect newborn babies from contracting the virus. 

 You can contact your doctor if you want to know your status now. Sometime medical doctors use Ultrasound, which tests for signs of liver damage and cancer. Alternatively may use liver biopsy to detect signs of liver damage and cancer.

There is another test like as liver function tests, which tests to see if ‘enzymes are higher than normal levels’.

The leadership of this country, especially the Ministry of Health needs to take extra precaution as to ensure citizens are protected and be enlightened to protect themselves against the vice.

Minister of Health, Dr. Riak Gai should consider importing drugs such as Interferon, which is used to help stop the replication of HBV. It is called an antiviral agent. Experts believe that “Interferon” has been 40 percent effective in eliminating chronic HBV infection. It is believed that there is no specific treatment for acute hepatitis B virus infection.

Medical experts advise against hospitalization to prevent spread of the virus to other patients. However, there are few exceptions like as severe cases that may permit hospitalization. 

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