CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News UpdateRWANDA: Health Ministry Issues Hepatitis Warning
October 15, 2012
Speaking for the Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana, head of RBC’s HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infectious Diseases Unit, has said that the public should take the same precautions against hepatitis that they do for HIV/AIDS. According to Nsanzimana, most prevalent in Rwanda are cases of hepatitis B at 3.6 percent—which now surpasses HIV, currently at 3 percent—and hepatitis C at 2.5 percent. Both virus strains can be transmitted through unsafe sex or primarily through contact with blood from an infected individual.
It was not until two months ago when a survey was conducted, that health officials realized that Rwanda’s infection rate for hepatitis was high. Nsanzimana estimates that only 10 percent of infected persons might be getting treatment, but stresses that the ministry is doing all it can to deal with the disease. The ministry has established a unit focusing on hepatitis that is combined with the existing unit that deals with HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.
An estimated 500 million individuals experience chronic illness related to their infection from the hepatitis virus. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), hepatitis B and C account for approximately 80 percent of all liver cancer cases.