Hep B Blog

World Hepatitis Day in Ghana

Ghanians lined up for a viral hepatitis screening at last year's World Hepatitis Day event in Tamale, Ghana (Northern Region)

HBF is pleased to share World Hepatitis Day plans of our friend Theobald Owusu-Ansah of the Theobald Hepatitis B Foundation in Ghana. The Foundation is also a voting member of the World Hepatitis Alliance. 

On July 28th, 2013, The Theobald Hepatitis B Foundation and the Hepatitis Coalition of Ghana will join the World with one voice to celebrate World Hepatitis Day in Sunyani at Victoria Park. In attendance will be the Chiefs, members of Parliament, District Chief Executives, Municipal Chief Executives, Assembly Members and all the Opinion Leaders of the Region.

The Theobald Hepatitis B Foundation is a non-profit organization whose main aim is to educate and create awareness of hepatitis B and C to the general public, ranging from the causes, and symptoms of viral hepatitis, to preventive measures.

On World Hepatitis Day, the activities will start with an early morning Float with music and dance throughout the principal streets of Sunyani, along with the members and volunteers of the Foundation and the Coalition distributing educational materials to the crowds. These leaflets, posters, banners and stickers are part of the ongoing media blast that will draw the public’s attention to problem of chronic hepatitis B among the people of Ghana.

Free screening and hepatitis B vaccinations will be ongoing throughout the day’s activities. Resource persons will be delivering their messages and educating the general public about viral hepatitis. It is important that the people learn and understand whether or not they are positive or negative for viral hepatitis, and if they are positive, what is next.

The Delegation of the Government and other health care professionals will educate the public on Viral Hepatitis Policies and the way forward. Dieticians will also take the general public through the kind of food and diet one needs to eat, and the importance of avoiding alcohol, in order to defuse the public cry of the cost of prevention and treatment of hepatitis B.

Participating organizations will then take the opportunity to appeal for funds from the government officials and the Chiefs of the region present, in order to enable us to successfully organize our last programme of the year.

At the end of the event, the public will be provided with advice, and directed to seek medical information from qualified health professionals, in order to avoid falling into wrong hands of those trying to sell false cures for those with hepatitis B.

Please join us for our World Hepatitis Day activities in Victoria Park if you are in Sunyani, Ghana.

Theobald Owusu Ansah
Theobald Hepatitis B Foundation
P.O. Box GP 21325 Accra-Ghana:

Phone: 00233-20-8269214
Theobald Hepatitis B Foundation website


HBV Journal Review – July 2013

HBF is pleased to connect our blog readers to Christine Kukka’s monthly HBV Journal Review that she writes for the HBV Advocate. The journal presents the
latest in hepatitis B research, treatment, and prevention from recent academic and medical journals. This month, the following topics are explored:

*Experts Describe When to Treat Pregnant Women with Antivirals
Does pregnancy worsen hepatitis B?
When should pregnant women be treated?
Which antivirals are safe to use during pregnancy?
What if women have elevated ALTs before becoming pregnant and have never         been treated?
What about women with normal ALTs and high viral loads?
Is it safe to use antivirals during the entire pregnancy?
Monitoring recommendations after delivery
Can a woman taking antivirals breastfeed?
* Half of Patients Treated Long-Term with Tenofovir Lose HBeAg
*Even Patients with High Viral Load Lose HBeAg with Tenofovir
*New Type of Interferon Effective in Phase 2 Hepatitis B Trial
*Majority of Hepatitis B Patients Have Vitamin D Deficiency
*But Patients with Healthy Vitamin D Levels Are More Likely to Clear HBsAg
*Activists Develop a National Plan to Eradicate Hepatitis B in the U.S.
*New Guidelines Urge Britain’s Doctors to Improve Hepatitis B Care
*Measuring HBsAg Levels May Identify Fibrosis and Avoid Liver Biopsies
*HBsAg Levels May Also Predict Cancer Risk in HBeAg-negative Patients

HBV Journal Review

July 1, 2013, Vol 10, no 7
by Christine M. Kukka

Experts Describe When to Treat Pregnant Women with Antivirals
Two U.S. hepatitis B experts have crafted guidelines for doctors to use when deciding when to treat pregnant women infected with the hepatitis B virus (HBV) with antivirals in order to safeguard the women’s health and prevent infection of newborns.

More than half of new hepatitis B infections result from mother-to-child (vertical) transmission and despite immediate immunization and administration of HBIG (hepatitis antibodies), about 30% of infants born to women with high viral loads become infected. Additionally, women who want to become pregnant may already be treated with antivirals because of liver damage.  There is little medical guidance on whether treatment is safe over the entire pregnancy.

Does pregnancy worsen hepatitis B? Generally it does not unless the woman has cirrhosis (severe liver scarring.) Studies show a pregnant woman’s viral load generally does not increase over a pregnancy, but after the baby is born and the woman’s hormone levels change (akin to a sudden decline in steroids), some women experience a “flare” and their alanine transaminase (ALT) levels may increase due to moderate liver cell damage. Because of these flares, doctors must monitor new mothers carefully for several weeks after childbirth.

When should pregnant women be treated? Starting in the second or third trimester of pregnancy, antiviral treatment is recommended when women have high viral loads—exceeding 1 million copies per milliliter or 200,000 international units per milliliter. However, if women are already receiving antiviral treatment when they become pregnant, treatment should probably continue over the pregnancy to prevent worsening liver disease.

Which antivirals are safe to use during pregnancy? The experts recommend tenofovir (Viread) in the event the woman continues to need antiviral treatment because this drug has a very low rate of drug resistance, or telbivudine (Tyzeka). Both have been shown to be safe and cause no birth defects when used in pregnant women infected with HIV or HBV.

Continue reading about this and additional studies…

Learning to Care: Being There for Someone with Cancer

This weeks’ blog features one family’s experience in dealing with a rare type of cancer with the goal of bringing hope and inspiring those who may be dealing with the challenge of living with liver cancer.

In November 2005, my wife Heather and I learned something that changed our lives forever. It was the day that she was diagnosed with cancer. She had malignant pleural mesothelioma. I knew that our lives were about to change considerably, and right away I had to step into the role of caregiver for my wife. Our daughter Lily had just come in to the world three months prior, and our excitement over being new parents quickly dissolved into fear of what the future could bring. I didn’t know why we were dealt such a hand, but I knew that we had to make it through.

I started my life as a caregiver the moment that I heard Heather had cancer. We went to the doctor together that day. Sitting there, feeling trapped inside my emotions, we were faced with some difficult choices. The doctor gave us a few options for treatment nearby, like the regional hospital or university hospital, but neither of these had a program for mesothelioma. We were told about a specialist in Boston named Dr. David Sugarbaker, who was renowned for his work with mesothelioma patients. It didn’t take me any time to say, “Get us to Boston!” I knew that if my wife had any chance of surviving, she would need the best care she could possibly get.

We spent some time after that trying to get our life together. We had to make some tough decisions about child care, paying bills and work. Heather could no longer work, and I had to scale back to part time in order to be there to care for her and Lily. The worst times were being stuck at my job, thinking of my wife and the baby, and knowing that I wasn’t where I needed to be and yet I was where I had to be. I kept having these terrifying moments of doubt, where I would think of being alone and widowed with a baby to raise on my own. It was all I could do to keep it together most days.

Help came when we needed it the most through my wife’s family. Heather’s parents were extremely giving during our time of need. They provided a place for her to live after her surgery in Boston but they also provided for Lily’s child care. They even helped with medical bills. Friends were also there for us during our rough time. I will never forget the help from these people and how generous they were. It truly saved my family from desperate hardship. I will always remember that kindness.

My strongest advice to anyone in this situation is to accept every offer of help that comes your way. I learned the hard way that there is no room for pride in a battle with cancer.  Even the smallest offer of help can be a huge weight off your shoulders, and at the very least will remind you that you are not alone in the fight.

Furthermore, as a caregiver you must remember to take care of yourself as well.  Allow yourself to have bad days, this is inevitable and even necessary, but always remember to never, ever give up hope for a better tomorrow.

Heather would undergo intense treatment for mesothelioma over the following months, and against all odds she would eventually beat her cancer.  It has been over seven years since her diagnosis, and she remains happy and healthy to this day. We hope that by sharing our story, we can help inspire others currently battling through cancer today.

Cameron Von St. James