Misinformation About Hepatitis ‘B’ Transmission Fuels Stigma – Alliance Cautioned Public

By thefourlens.com

Sunyani, May 30, 2024

The Hepatitis Alliance of Ghana (HAG) has warn the public against misinformation and false publications about Hepatitis ‘B’ and its mode of transmission.

“Any form of misinformation and unauthenticated publication or reports may potentially fuel hepatitis ‘B’ stigma in our socio-cultural environment”.

Professor Charles Ampong Adjei, the Executive Director, Hepatitis Alliance of Ghana, and Associate Professor, University of Ghana Hepatitis Researcher cautioned the public during an interview with thefourlens.com News on Thursday.

He worried it was “very unfortunate that many people, including even medical professionals and the general public, are unaware about the aetiology and transmission route of hepatitis ‘B’ virus, which appears to be exacerbating the stigma associated with the disease in Ghana”.     

Prof. Adjei stressed “the notion that hepatitis ‘B’ can be acquire through saliva during communal eating is false”, explaining that the hepatitis ‘B’ virus is not transmitted during daily activities such as the sharing of food or preparation of meals.

He emphasized such inaccurate information creates an environment of secrecy, can contribute to depression, and can be a barrier to testing and linkage care.

Prof. Adjei further cautioned that stigmatization of persons with Hepatitis ‘B’ has substantial consequences, saying it has an impact on the affected population’s mental health by reducing their self-esteem, causing depression, and, in rare cases, suicidal ideation. 

“In fact, it threatens marriages because the discordant couple may feel very uneasy connecting with their spouse for fear of contracting the virus”.

He said “the fact remains that the most common route of hepatitis ‘B’ transmission in African countries, including Ghana, is from an infected mother to her child at birth (perinatal transmission) or through horizontal transmission (exposure to infected blood)”. 

Prof. Adjei cited “a publication by GhanaWeb on 28th May 2024, titled “Eating fufu, Omo tuo, tuo zaafi together from one bowl spreads hepatitis B”, purportedly made by Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa” was false.

Such misconceptions about the transmission of the virus further undermine the ongoing efforts of civil society organisations to address hepatitis ‘B’ stigma in Ghana.

Thefourlens.com

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Writer’s email: ttchrietoph1@gmail.com

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