The continent of Africa has a population of about 1 billion people. It is likely that this population has the highest Hepatitis C infection levels in the world. Research figures are scarce but some research suggests that at least one in every 25 people in Africa may have Hep C.
However exact Hep C infection rates are hard to find.
If we use figures from Hepatitis C research in Nigeria and assume a similar rate of infection across all of Africa it is possible that there may be as many as 50 million people infected with Hepatitis C in Africa.
According to the Nigerian Medical Journal (Vol.51 2010) the prevalence of hepatitis C. virus infection is increasing in Nigeria, ranging from 4.7-5% in Ilorin, to 5.3-6.6% in Enugu, to 11% in Ibadan and 20% in Benin.
In other words, more than 5% of the people tested were infected with HCV.
The Hepatitis C infection rate appears to be highest amongst Nigeria’s poor as recent research showed that amongst Nigerian university students the infection rate was around the 1% mark… much lower than the general population.
So we have this situation that we find all around the world where the poor cannot afford the medication or the testing.
They have no hope.
To put this in perspective the minimum wage in Nigeria is about US$50 per month.
A viral load test is around $180… or about 4 months wages.
Unlicensed generic Sofosbuvir + Daclatasvir Hepatitis C treatments are available in Nigeria but the price is about US$900 for a 12 week treatment.
(As always, even with generics, the people selling them want to make the maximum profit regardless of human suffering.)
So we have this situation where an average person must pay 4 months wages for the viral load test and 18 months wages for a 12 week treatment with Sofosbuvir + Daclatasvir.
Clearly both options are impossible. It would be like asking a waitress in Miami to pay $8,000 for the viral load test and $40,000 for the treatment.
In this will be a two part article where I am going to tell the story of Hepatitis C in Africa by focusing on the Hepatitis C situation in Nigeria. I believe that the Hep C situation in Nigeria is being replicated across Africa. I choose Nigeria because that is the country from which I get the most requests for information and assistance. Maybe because their language is English?
Below is the story of one person I have helped in Nigeria recently.
I was born in the 1992, am from a family of 7 Children.
I was studying computer engineering and science when I learned that I had Hepatitis C. That was only six months ago.
I was feeling unwell and so with the symptoms I had first I had the antibody test and then the RNA test which confirmed I had an active infection.
Knowing from my doctor that I had hepatitis C was so heartbreaking for me, my family were also very upset because it caused some issues and challenges to me and my family.
My Doctor said Hepatitis C was not curable, that it would probably kill me and that I can transmit it to my husband, my kids or anyone around me which made things more difficult for me.
Knowing you have an ailment which cannot be cured is punishment enough and it’s been difficult to concentrate in school with constant headache, tiredness, dizziness.
One thing that has really almost made me crazy was the question of how I contacted Hep C . I still cannot figure out how, because my husband does not have it and I have never used drugs, I don’t have tattoo on my body and have not had any blood infused.
Treating hepatitis C in Nigeria is difficult because even to run all the recommended tests alone is too expensive let alone buying the drugs.
The costs are impossible, even though my husband has a good job in the civil service his monthly pay is only about US$250.
With that amount we can live but there is nothing left to save. Even to pay for the antibody test and RNA test we had to borrow money.
In Nigeria most people who have hepatitis C rather decide just live with it because of the cost and because when people find it out they will avoid coming close to you because the impression they have is that once your body touches their body they will automatically be infected with Hepatitis C too.
I even had that same impression too!
So in Nigeria most people carrying Hep C keep silence because it’s too expensive to treat through Orthodox medicine so most people resort to herbal treatments, which in most Case’s do more harm than good.
I even started having the thought of trying herbal drugs when I was researching on the internet and came in contact with Greg Jefferys work. Through his foundation Greg is helping me and make sure I get my treatment. Thanks to God.
I also joined Greg’s Facebook group where I keep reading all the replies daily and I’m happy to learn a lot from them
Now I have hope and also better information about Hepatitis C that I could not find in my home.
One nurse even told me that HCV can kill faster than HIV and I became so scared until I read more about it. And over here most people live and die out of fear from wrong orientation concerning Hepatitis C.
I wish a foundation such as Greg’s could be extended to Nigeria that way it will save millions of life.
I know its not possible for Greg to extend his foundation here but at least through the internet it is possible to give advice and relief people with Hep C of their fear and despair.
Here in Nigeria we really need help, good foundation and a way to get access to drugs and tests easily and cheap.
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