Hepatitis B is an infectious disease of the liver that occurs due to an infection of Hepatitis B Virus (HBV). HBV infect the liver and causes hepatitis, hepatocellular carcinoma, and liver cirrhosis. Hepatitis B poses significant health problem globally because it ranks tenth among diseases that cause death.
According to World Health Organization, about 2 billion of people have experienced HBV infections and approximately 350 million have acquired chronic hepatitis B infections, hence causing about 1 million deaths annually. Across the world, there is a high variation in HBV infection as prevalence varies from 20% to 0.2% in endemic regions.
Lavanchy (2004) argues that Western countries have low prevalence because HBV infections occur mostly in adulthood, while in African and Asian countries; prevalence of HBV infection is high because it occurs in childhood (p.97). In this view, occurrence of HBV infection determines prevalence of Hepatitis B in various countries. Therefore, what are the factors that contribute to the increasing prevalence of hepatitis B in Sub-Sahara Africa?
Mode of HBV infections determines prevalence of hepatitis a given population. In African countries that lie in Sub-Sahara region experience high prevalence of hepatitis B as HBV mode of infection mainly occurs through sexual, congenital and interfamilial routes. In a study carried out in Bangui, Komas et al. (2010) reveal that, about 25% of children acquired HBV before the age of 1 year, while 48% acquired HBV infection at the ages of 10 to 15 years (p.1).
Hence, it means that the high prevalence of hepatitis B in Sub-Saharan countries is attributable to childhood infections of HBV. Assessment of the dominant mode of transmission is critical in establishing preventative strategies of HBV infections.
Given that the World Health Organization has come up with safe and effective immunization programs, chronic nature of hepatitis B is attributable to resistant strains of HBV. Resistant strains of HBV have made it difficult to prevent and treat hepatitis B among population, thus contributing to increasing incidences of the hepatitis B in Sub-Saharan countries.
According to Kukka (2010), health researchers have found out that drug resistance of HBV is a major challenge that health care system is facing in prevention and treatment of hepatitis B (p.3). Hence, preventive and treatment programs that a Sub-Saharan population employ when combating hepatitis B determines prevalence of hepatitis B among the population.
Since hepatitis B is an infectious disease, social lifestyles of people and availability of other related infections such as Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), contribute significantly to increasing incidences of hepatitis. Komas et al. (2010) assert that social lifestyles such as abuse of drugs, use of alcohol, and unsafe sexual practices encourage transmission of hepatitis B and other sexual transmitted diseases (p.2).
It is evident that countries in Sub-Saharan region have a high prevalence of HIV infections relative to Western countries. Hence, examination of social lifestyles of people indicates the prevalence of hepatitis B in a given population.
High prevalence of hepatitis B in Sub-Saharan countries is due to numerous factors that promote infection of HBV. The research question is that: what are the factors that contribute to the increasing prevalence of hepatitis B among countries in Sub-Sahara Africa?
In an attempt to answer the question, the research hypothesis is that, childhood infections, resistance of HBV to drugs, and social lifestyles are dominant factors that contribute to the high prevalence of hepatitis in Sub-Saharan countries. Combination of these risk factors considerably increases the rate of HBV infections and prevalence of hepatitis B in the population.
Komas, N., Bai-Sepou, S., Manirakiza, A., Leal, J., Bere, A., & Le Faou, A. (2010).
The Prevalence of Hepatitis B Virus Markers in Cohort of Students in Bangui, Central African Republic. BioMed Central Infectious Diseases, 10(226), 1-6. Print.
Kukka, C. (2010). Hepatitis B. HBV Journal Review, 7(3), 1-5. Print.
Lavanchy, D. (2004). Hepatitis B Virus Epidemiology, Disease Burden, Treatment, and Current and Emerging Preventing and Control Measures. Journal of Viral Hepatitis, 1 (1), 97-107. Print