Detection of Hepatitis B and C Virus Infection among Students of Private Tertiary Institution in Southwestern Nigeria

Hepatitis is defined as the inflammation of the liver. It may be caused by autoimmune diseases or exposure to certain chemical agents such as drugs, herbs, dietary supplements and industrial toxins, or microbial agents such as parasites, bacteria, and viruses; majorly the hepatitis viruses. The hepatitis B virus-HBV (Family Hepadnaviridae) and hepatitis C virus-HCV (Family Flaviviridae) in particular, can cause acute and chronic hepatitis and are the leading causes for hepatic cirrhosis and cancer, thus creating a important burden to healthcare organizations due to the high morbidity/mortality and costs of management. HBV is 10 times more infectious than the HCV with many carriers not realizing they are infected with the virus, thus referred to as a “silent killer”. HBV can effectively be prevented by vaccination, here, a safe and effective HBV vaccine has been available since the 1980s and can prevent acute and chronic infection with an estimated 95% success. Whereas, there is no vaccine against HCV infection and a person with HCV can infect others from one to several weeks before symptoms begin to show up. These two hepatitis viruses (HBV and HCV) account for a substantial proportion of liver diseases worldwide and Nigeria belongs to the group of countries highly endemic for viral hepatitis. In Nigeria, HBV infection is hyperendemic and may be the highest in sub-saharan Africa. In Nigeria, 18.7% of liver cancer patients carry markers of HCV and it is said that the results of seroprevalence studies of HCV in Nigeria vary depending on the study population and also the geographical setting having higher rates along the eastern borders and some in Northern regions. Patients with dual HBV/HCV infection have a higher risk of progression to cirrhosis and decompensated liver disease and have an increased risk of hepatocellular cancer (HCC). Co-infected patients represent a diverse group with various patterns of viral replication and great variations of immune profiles. Because the two hepatotropic viruses share same modes of transmission (sexual intercourse, injections, needle stick, blood transfusion etc), co-infection with the two viruses is not uncommon, especially in areas with a high occurrence of HBV infection and among people at high hazard for parenteral infect. Patients with dual HBV and HCV infection have additional severe liver illness, and are at an augmented risk for evolution to hepatocellular carcinoma. Despite the level of public health awareness been created, many are yet to know their Hepatitis B and C virus infection status. Early detection of Hepatitis B and C virus infection can prevent liver diseases, including liver cancer. Howbeit, the percentage occurrence of Hepatitis B and C virus infection among undergraduate students of Babcock University is not known. Besides, there is a need to identify factors that predispose young adults in this setting to Hepatitis B and C virus infection. Scarcity of information in this regard, therefore, necessitates this study.

Author(s): Seyi Samson Enitan

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