Say NO to stigmatization of People Diagnosed with Hepatitis.
The President of the Hepatitis Zero Nigerian Commission, Dr Mike Omotosho has condemned the stigmatization of people living with Hepatitis by public and private organisations in the country.
He reiterated that such actions may boomerang and affect the current campaign by stakeholders in bringing the treatment and prevention of viral Hepatitis to the fore front in Nigeria causing significant impediment.
According to him, the Hepatitis Zero Nigerian Commission have been inundated with calls and reports of stigmatization from people living with hepatitis particularly the B virus.
Additionally, High Ranking private and public establishments denying jobs to deserving candidates on the grounds of being Hepatitis B positive” has also been reported.
Dr Mike Omotosho stated that recently, a young lady via social media complained of being denied a job in one of the nation’s top banks and was advised to do more tests but not given the Job, also a student was denied admission into Senior Secondary School on same grounds.
In as much as Hepatitis b and c are contagious, the mode of transmission is similar to HIV which includes contact with infected blood, sexual transmission or contact with other bodily fluids. Also there is vaccine against hepatitis B which confers protection on those not infected by the virus.
The Commission further buttressed that the eradication of Hepatitis is our collective responsibility and stigmatization is not the solution as it will have adverse effects on the economic development of the nation.
Nigeria is one of the countries with the highest burden of viral hepatitis with a prevalence of 11-14% for Hepatitis B and 2.2% for Hepatitis C.
The level of knowledge of viral hepatitis is very low amongst Nigerians and the awareness level is being pushed by key stakeholders like the HepatitisZero Commission and gradually people are being tested and treated accordingly.
We call on the government at all levels and private spirited individuals as well as bilateral/multilateral organisations to join the campaign to ensure lives are not put at risk even as we all work towards the SDG goal 3.3 of halting the transmission of Hepatitis by 2030.