For a disease affecting about 350 people globally and over 20 million Nigerians, there are quite a lot of hepatitis myths flying around with as much zeal as the virus. Read on and be better informed.
Myth 1: Hepatitis is hepatitis.
Fact: Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E are different viruses with different modes of transmission and clinical manifestations.
While Hepatitis A and E are transmitted by ingestion of contaminated food, Hepatitis B and C are transmitted by blood transfusion, unprotected sex, tattoos or sharing needles/razors.
Hepatitis D occurs only in patients with Hepatitis B.
Myth 2: All patients with hepatitis have jaundice.
Fact: The absence of jaundice does not rule out acute hepatitis viral infection. As a result. it can present sometimes only with symptoms such as fever, vomiting, poor appetite, and lethargy.
Myth 3: Overcoming one type of hepatitis leads to immunity from other forms of hepatitis.
Fact: Patients with Hepatitis A get lifelong protection against hepatitis A only. One is still at risk of infection with other forms of hepatitis like B, C and E.
Myth 4: The hepatitis virus cannot survive outside the human body.
Fact: The hepatitis B virus is 50-100 times more infectious than HIV and can survive in dried blood for up to 7 days. The hepatitis C virus can survive on surfaces for up to 16 hours.
Myth 5: Vaccines are available to treat all types of Hepatitis virus.
Fact: Vaccines are available only for Hepatitis A and B
Hepatitis is not a joke. In fact, it is deadlier than HIV and may not show symptoms for years if not tested which in turn causes extensive damage. It is very important that you take preventive measures if you participate in risky behaviours, work in places like nursing homes, dormitories, day-care centres or places where you have extended contact with other people and risk of coming into contact with the disease.
Also, get tested.