Public Health Communications Specialist
Ministry of Health/Social Development
More than 290 million people are said to be unaware that they are living with viral Hepatitis B and the British Virgin Islands Health Services Authority is doing its part to raise awareness to the disease as the Territory observes World Hepatitis Day.
Community Nurse, Elisabeth Brown said Hepatitis is a serious liver disease that is spread through contact with blood, semen or other body fluids from an infected person. The disease can also be passed from an infected mother to her baby at birth.
Nurse Brown said that preventing Hepatitis B is so important that a child is given a Hepatitis B shot after birth and the vaccination schedule is completed within the first year of life.
She said adults can also be vaccinated, adding “To be fully immunised against Hepatitis, adults need a series of three vaccinations, the initial dose followed by another one month later and the final shot five months after that.”
Nurse Brown stated that vaccination is extremely effective in adults and once all doses have been given, the adult would be completely immune and never have to worry about exposure.
Symptoms of Hepatitis include fever, fatigue, and loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, grey-colored stools, joint pain and jaundice.
Nurse Brown further stated that there is no easy fix once someone has been exposed to Hepatitis. “Once you have the disease it can be treated but it is not reversible, so prevention through vaccination is definitely the way to go,” the community nurse said.
Persons are encouraged to ensure that babies and children are vaccinated and adults who are not sure of their immunisation status or persons not feeling well should make an appointment with a health personnel at one of the community clinics by contacting 852-7500.
The BVI Health Services Authority is committed to delivering excellent, compassionate, client-centered healthcare across the Territory.