Viral hepatitis remains a major global health threat that desperately needs increased public awareness, further scientific inquiry, and public health programs. In West Africa, the current state of knowledge about Hepatitis C (HCV) and Hepatitis B (HBV) is inadequate. Uncertainty clouds infection and chronicity prevalence estimates, a clear understanding of transmission modes, as well as the viral, host, and exposure factors compounding disease progression.
Paramount to investigating these questions is the need to better define the epidemic through building properly developed cohorts and establishing cross institution collaborations to allow the creation of a network of investigators with complementary expertise. The over-riding objective of HepNet is in the establishment of a multi-disciplinary, structured “hepatitis network” that will enhance our collective ability to address the fundamental questions surrounding the hepatitis epidemics in West Africa.
Kumasi Blood Bank Study: Completed enrollment of 363 participants, with full data and laboratory analyses conducted. The first manuscript is now under review, and additional manuscripts in preparation. At KATH, the study team has been led by Dr Richard Phillips, Dr Shirley Owusu-Ofori, and Dr Ohene Opare-Sem, with much help provided by Dorcas Owusu, MS, lab and study coordinator. Dr Steve Sarfo has been an instrumental study team member as well.
Obuasi, Ghana Population Study: The study started 5/2014, and already over 2,000 participants have been enrolled! Dr Richard Phillips and his study team have done a tremendous job in establishing the effective research team and carrying out the study. He is helped by Dr Steve Sarfo, who oversees the day to day operations, and Ms Dorcas Owusu, who is the study and lab coordinator. Please see the great pictures of the study team at a field site!
HBV Vertical Transmission Pilot Study: With the oversite of Dr Roderick Larsen-Reindorf, the feasibility pilot study of HBV in pregnant women was conducted in June, 2014. Dr JoAnn Jose, a medical resident at Loyola, and Dr Lara Dugas, an epidemiologist at Loyola, spent 2 weeks at KATH working with Dr Larsen-Reindorf’s team to interview over 250 HBV+ pregnant women and the health care professionals carrying for these women. This study is investigating the knowledge base about HBV vertical transmission, and the acceptability of introducing preventative therapies.
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