Opportunistic Infections

Monday, September 05, 2005

Co-Infection with HIV/Aids and Viral Hepatitis is Very Dangerous

By Joe Dinga Pefok, The Post (Buea) NEWS, September 2, 2005

Cameroon- A resource person on HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmissible diseases, STDs, Dr. Christian Tzeuton, of Laquintinie Hospital, Douala, has disclosed that patients co-infected with HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis run the risk of rapid death.Dr. Tzeuton was speaking during a seminar on how to take care of patients suffering from HIV/AIDS in Douala, recently.

Attended by 50 medical personnel, the seminar was organised by Comité Douala Antiretroviraux, commonly known as Comité DARVIR, a group of medical personnel specialised in HIV/AIDS and sponsored by MTN Cameroon.

Tzeuton disclosed that co-infection with HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis is becoming rampant in Cameroon. He said the present infection rate in the country is 26 percent.

Both HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis, Tzeuton explained, have similar ways of transmission, which are unprotected sex with infected blood and infected persons.

He advised that if a patient is diagnosed with co-infection of HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis, all should be done, and quickly too, to eliminate the viral hepatitis so that the patient can hopefully continue to survive by taking anti-retroviral drugs for HIV/AIDS.

But he warned that if the viral hepatitis, especially Hepatitis C, which is the most dangerous is not rapidly treated, the chances of the HIV/AIDS patient surviving, even with the anti-retroviral drugs, would be very slim.

High Cost Of Treatment
But Tzeuton regretted that it is very difficult to wipe out viral hepatitis, especially Hepatitis C, in a patient in Cameroon. This, he said, is not only because the disease is often resistant to drugs, but more because the most effective drugs like Tenoforvir, are not available in the country and are very expensive, since they are not subsidised by government.

He said good drugs like Tenoforvir are available in France, and that it would cost a patient to treat a full-blown Hepatitis B or C, FCFA 7 million for drugs alone.

Tzeuton said the period of effective treatment of viral hepatitis, ranges from 1 - 48 weeks, depending on the type as well as the stage in a patient.

He assured that if the disease is diagnosed at an early stage, it can be handled with some available drugs in Cameroon.

The doctor said viral hepatitis has no specific symptom, and does not also quickly manifest in a human being. He said an infected person might have a fever, and the tendency for most people would be to assume that it is malaria, and thus resort to auto-medication.

Participants expressed gratitude to MTN Cameroon for sponsoring the seminar. In a press release, the Director of Communication of MTN Cameroon, Jean-Claude Ottou, noted that the seminar was organised within the framework of the partnership between Comité DARVIR and MTN Cameroon, which was initiated two years ago.

Ottou stated that the partnership had already led to the training of 450 medical and paramedical personnel, and other related groups, on taking care of HIV/AIDS patients.

"The engagement of MTN Cameroon with Comité DARVIR, is in line with the company's policy of social responsibility represented by MTN Foundation."

MTN Foundation
On the newly created MTN Foundation, Ottou said it is to ameliorate the lives of Cameroonians. He said the Foundation will be engaged in five major domains, which include: Health and HIV/AIDS, Education/Science and Technology, Community Development, Art and Culture and Environment.

The objectives of the MTN Foundation, Ottou stated, would include among others, to create access to education and new technology, to effectively contribute to health preservation as well as protection of the environment; to preserve as well as develop the rich culture of Cameroon, and above all to create employment opportunities.

The Corporate Communications Coordinator at MTN Cameroon, Bouba Kaélé, had asserted in a recent press release that the company has been engaged in many health and other social projects across the country.

He cited the donation of over FCFA 40 million to Lions Club by the company, for the construction of a centre for mentally retarded children in Douala. He further cited the contribution of funds to the construction of the building of Malimba Dispensary, in Sanaga Maritime Division, as well as equipping it. He also cited the construction of several water points in different provinces of the country, which were founded by MTN Cameroon.

Bouba recalled that MTN Cameroon supported the "No AIDS" caravan that embarked on a vast sensitisation campaign on HIV/AIDS across the country in 2003. MTN, he said, spent FCFA 250 million for health and other social activities.

Source: allAfrica.com