The Health Service Students Association (HESSA) organised a free health screening for its members in collaboration with the University of Ghana Nursing and Midwifery Students Association (UGHANMSA) on November 2, 2023.
This exercise, which took place in the car park of the University of Ghana Business School (UGBS), was organised to allow students to receive free screenings for illnesses such as Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), Hepatitis B, and Breast cancer.
Dr. Darlington Akpalu, a health expert, spoke to students at the event about some of these diseases, with a special focus on Hepatitis B as a STI. He emphasized the disease’s prevalence in Ghana, implying that the problem must be addressed quickly.
“Hepatitis B is also another STI of which not many of you are aware of. When you indulge in unprotected sexual activities, you are exposed to contracting Hepatitis B. As I’m speaking to you now, 9.9 percent of people in Ghana have Hep B. Seeing that our population is somewhere around 31 million, I can say that over 2 million people living in Ghana have the disease.”
“Sharing sharp objects with one another is very much advised against. It can also be transmitted through body fluids, like sperms, vaginal fluids and saliva for those who engage in deep kissing,” he added.
Dr. Akpalu finally taught the students on measures that should be taken to prevent and manage the disease in case of contraction.
“Using barrier protectives like condoms [during sexual intercourse] is very necessary. There’s also vaccination against Hepatitis B. As a young person who is sexually active, you need to be vaccinated against Hep B, because there is absolutely no cure for it. It is chronic and because of that, it can lead to liver cancer so please take it very seriously. If it gets to the cancer stage, it may lead to death. There are medications to sustain those who have contracted the disease but it advisable to vaccinate yourself and be free of Hepatitis B.”
Meanwhile, students at the event were delighted to have gained more information on Hepatitis B as an STI.
“There are some things I didn’t know about Hepatitis before I came here. First off, I learnt that the disease can be transmitted through bodily fluids such as blood and even saliva. To hear that this disease is common in Ghana, I have been motivated to take care of myself so as to avoid the disease and live a healthy life.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines Hepatitis B as a viral infection that attacks the liver and can cause both acute and chronic disease.
The virus is most commonly transmitted from mother to child during birth and delivery, as well as during early childhood, through contact with blood or other body fluids during sex with an infected partner, unsafe injections, or exposure to sharp instruments.
Some people experience acute illness with symptoms that last for several weeks, such as yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), dark urine, feeling extremely tired, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
When severe, acute hepatitis can result in liver failure and death.