The Agony of Living With Hepatitis B


In short
Kabgambe shares his experience as a person Living with Hepatitis B in Uganda.

Living with Hepatitis B--a viral disease that has no cure yet--has been a tough experience for Kenneth Kabagambe, the founding Executive Director National Organization for People Living with Hepatitis B in Uganda.

The youthful Kenneth Kabagambe lost a close friend to a strange disease while at the University.
The strange disease turned out to be hepatitis B. Because of the little awareness about this disease, Kenneth Kabagambe had not known about this disease. 

// Cue In "This was a shock to me….
Cue Out … I couldn't get answers"// 

That experience prompted to Kabagambe to seek for more information about Hepatitis B. Little did he know that one he would test positive of this viral disease.  

///Cue In "So in 2012 I went for testing…..
Cue Out… I was depressed"//

Testing positive of Hepatitis B immersed Kenneth Kabagambe among a few Ugandan advocates to come out with campaigns at rising awareness about this virus.

The advocacy lead to the birth of National Organization for People Living with Hepatitis B in Uganda.

Hepatitis B is a potentially life threatening liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus. In Uganda, the prevalence of hepatitis B is 10% in the general population. Areas mostly affected are Northern, Eastern, Karamoja and Kasese.

Viral hepatitis is one of the leading causes of death globally, accounting for 1.34 million deaths per year - that's as many as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis or malaria. Together, hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C cause 80% of liver cancer cases in the world.

When Kabagambe was tested Hepatitis B positive health workers at a health Center in Kasese initiated him on treatment yet health experts discourage initiating treatment to person that test Hepatitis B positive without carrying out further tests.

//Cue In  "It isn't a normal….
Cue Out … globe as a whole"//

So as Uganda joins the rest of the World to mark World Hepatitis day, Kabagambe continues to push for better treatment and availability of Hepatitis B testing in Uganda's health system.

World Hepatitis Day (WHD) takes places every year on 28 July and brings the world together under a single theme to raise awareness of the global burden of viral hepatitis B.

Kabagambe is concerned that the rate of stigma and stigmatization against person that have tested positive of Hepatitis B seems to be rising and it may have outpaced stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.

He thinks stigma against people living with Hepatitis B is high because of little awareness about how people get this virus and what options are available if one tested Hepatitis B positive.  Kabagambe says there is no national program that is creating awareness about Hepatitis B. 

There are other challenges too. One of them is that the medication is expensive. So patients who are screened and found to harbor the virus, are given ARV medications used to treat opportunistic infection in HIV. The other challenge according to Kabagambe is the absence of a clear referral system for people living with Hepatitis B and that most of the public health facilities don't provide viral load testing for this virus.

//Cue In "Viral load is very expensive….

Cue Out…   treatment has to be taken for life"//

Symptoms of Hepatitis B usually begins with general ill-health, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, body aches, mild fever, and dark urine, and this could progresses to being jaundiced or yellow coloration of skin and eyes.

The government currently recommends both infants and adults to seek for Hepatitis B vaccination. One has to be vaccinated thrice with a prescribed period of time to be safe from being infected with the virus hos transmission method are similar to that of HIV.


Tagged with: hepatitis b