Hepatitis refers to inflammation of the liver. This could be due to infections, drugs, alcohol, autoimmune disorders. Viral hepatitis is caused by viruses which commonly include Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E. Other viruses from different virus families may also cause hepatitis

More than 2 billion people worldwide are estimated to have had hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and 350 million chronic carriers of the virus are at high risk of liver cirrhosis (irreversible abnormal disturbance in liver architecture) and primary liver cancer. In Uganda, the prevalence of hepatitis B is 10% in the general population. Areas mostly affected are Northern, Eastern, Karamoja and Kasese.

High-risk groups include intravenous drug abusers, health care personnel, multiply transfused patients, organ transplant patients, highly promiscuous persons, and newborn infants born to mothers with hepatitis B. Since mandatory screening of blood donors for hepatitis was instituted, the number of cases of transfusion-associated hepatitis has been dramatically reduced. People have been infected by improperly sterilized syringes, needles, or razor blades and even by tattooing or ear piercing.

There may be more than 1 billion viruses per milliliter of blood from an individual who is a carrier of Hepatitis B and that the virus is resistant to drying, it should be assumed that all bodily fluids from HBV-infected patients may be infectious. HBV is about 100 times more infectious than HIV and can survive for more than 7 days outside the body. Humans are the only known source of infection

After getting exposed to the virus, an individual will experience symptoms after about 10-50 days (incubation period) which include yellow discoloration of eyes, dark urine, pale stool, low appetite, abdominal pains, nausea, vomiting, fever and generalized body weakness, while others won’t demonstrate these as the disease progresses. In some cases, the body can clear the virus away leading to cure

Common investigations base on detection of parts which make up the virus, or antibodies produced by the body against this parts and number of viruses (viral load) in blood

Treatment makes use of antiviral drugs which suppress viral multiplication and supportive treatment of the above symptoms and management of complications like liver failure or cancer.

The mainstay of hepatitis B prevention is use of the HEPATITIS B VACCINE given in three phases at start, 1 month after and 6 months after 1st dose. Protection is up to 95% for 10 years or more. Proper handling of infectious materials is also important