n South African Medical Journal - Prevention of Liver Fibrosis and Cancer in Africa : The PROLIFICA project - a collaborative study of hepatitis B-related liver disease in West Africa : editorial
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection causes a spectrum of acute and chronic liver disease ranging from inactive chronic carrier status to progressive chronic hepatitis, culminating in end-stage cirrhosis and liver cancer. In SSA, HBV infection is endemic and the HBV-related disease burden is high. The lifetime risk of HBV infection is over 60%, and more than 8% of the population remain chronic HBV carriers who are at risk of progressive liver disease and HBV-related hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). SSA has one of the highest HBV-related liver cancer rates in the world, and it is the most common cancer among males and third most common among females. Unfortunately, HCC is usually a highly aggressive tumour with limited treatment options, particularly in resource-poor settings such as SSA. Furthermore, HBV-related HCC affects patients in their working and reproductive years. HBV therefore represents a threat to health on the African continent.
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