Hepatitis B is a viral disease that affects the liver, originally the disease was known as “serum hepatitis”. The virus causing this disease is called the hepatitis B virus. The hepatitis B is an infection that is bloodborne; this means that the virus is present in the blood, as well as body fluids of an infected person (World Health Organization 97). It is transmitted through exposure to fluids of an infected individual; the blood or fluid infected with the Hepatitis B Virus enters the body via an opening or a cut, causing an infection.
Conditions that pose risks of hepatitis infection include unsafe use of injections; this has been observed mostly in developing countries; approximately 8-16 million cases of HBV infections are caused by the use of contaminated needles (World Health Organization 97). Another risk is having unprotected sex or intravenous drug use; the exchange of HBV infected fluids during these risky activities leads to hepatitis B infection.
According to research, most people infected with hepatitis show no symptoms, they lead normal lives, however, many years of infection lead to a serious damage of the liver, which can lead to liver cancer and sometimes liver failure.
Why Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B virus infection is a major public health problem around the world; it has brought much suffering to the world population. According to research carried out by the World Health Organization, more than 350 million of 2 billion people infected with Hepatitis B are chronic carriers, and close to 15-40% of people infected with hepatitis B develop hepatocellular carcinoma, liver failure or cirrhosis (World Health Organization 98). The WHO report also reveals that HBV infections claim 0.5-1.2 million lives each year, and it is ranked 10th among the leading cause of death in the world. Hepatocellular carcinoma, a condition caused by hepatitis B infection, has increased around the world; it is ranked 5th among the most frequent cancers around the world, killing 0.3-0.5 million people each year.
Many people around the world are at risk of hepatitis B infection; this is because according to WHO report, approximately 45% of the world population lives in chronic HBV prevalence areas, these areas include, the Pacific, especially Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. However, there are areas with many cases of chronic HBV infection and yet they are outside the high prevalence region; these areas include the Indian subcontinent, Middle East, the Amazon basin and the south of East and Central Europe (World Health Organization 102). The high prevalence areas have also recorded high rates of Hepatocellular carcinoma. These reports show that a large population in the world is at risk of contracting hepatitis B and other conditions related to it, and if the condition is not managed, the affected regions world expand, and the cases of death related to hepatitis B would increase.
Eradication of Hepatitis B
Good news is that hepatitis B is a condition that can be eradicated; this is because there is hepatitis B vaccine, which is safe and effective in protecting uninfected people from HBV infection, as well as the advancement of cancer of the liver (World Health Organization par 13). This means that those with chronic HBV infections can also live a normal life because the treatment can prevent further liver damage, and with early detection of cancer related to hepatitis B, patients can successfully be treated.
How to Eradicate Hepatitis B
Nations that have high cases of hepatitis B should have programs such as immunization and vaccine programs to prevent the uninfected from being infected, this might include immunization after birth to prevent mother-child transmission and other forms of transmissions (Kukka 2). The international community should support countries affected by poverty by helping them strengthen their health delivery systems; this would ensure safe delivery of vaccines, thus preventing hepatitis B infections (World Health Organization par 6). All nations around the world, especially those with high cases of hepatitis B should create public awareness program on the importance of hepatitis B testing and screening for liver cancer; this would encourage testing. Early detection of hepatitis B and liver cancer would help patients, and the health practitioners to manage the disease, and reduce further infection among the population. These programs would help reduce the spread to uninfected areas and slowly eliminate the disease from regions with high rates on infection.