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HAG Warns Media Against Spreading Misinformation

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Hepatitis
Hepatitis

The Hepatitis Alliance of Ghana (HAG) has cautioned the media against misinforming the public on the mode of transmission of Hepatitis ‘B’.

Professor Charles Ampong Adjei, the Executive Director, HAG, said misinformation and unauthenticated publication about the spread of the virus might contribute to public stigmatisation and discrimination that could fuel the spread of the disease.

In an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Sunyani, Prof. Adjei said it was unfortunate that many people were unaware about the “etiology and transmission route of the hepatitis ‘B’ virus, which appears to be exacerbating the stigma in the country.”.

He ruled out the wrong notion that the virus could be transmitted through the sharing of food, saliva, or preparation of meals, saying such inaccurate information created an environment of secrecy that could contribute to depression and barrier to testing and linkage care.

Prof. Adjei spoke against the public stigmatisation of persons with Hepatitis ‘B’ and that societal discrimination had substantial consequences, impacting on the affected population’s mental health.

“It reduces their self-esteem, causes unending depression, and in rare cases suicidal ideation,” he stated.

“In fact, stigmatisation of persons of hepatitis ‘B’ threatened marriages. The discordant couple may feel very uneasy connecting with their spouse for fear of contracting the virus.”

“The fact remains that the most common route of hepatitis ‘B’ transmission in African countries, including Ghana, is from an infected mother to the child at birth (perinatal transmission) or through horizontal transmission (exposure to infected blood).

He observed that misconceptions about transmission undermined the ongoing efforts by civil society organisations to tackle the stigma in a holistic manner.

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