By Kirsty Oswald, medwireNews
08 April 2013
Viral Hepat 2013;
Advance online publication
medwireNews: Researchers have found poor levels of knowledge about hepatitis
C virus (HCV) among individuals with HCV mono-infection and HCV/HIV
Patients who were indifferent to the need for treatment or
reported feeling ashamed of their HCV-positive status scored particularly badly
in knowledge tests.
Mamta Jain (University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center,
Dallas, USA) and colleagues found that both mono- and co-infected patients
scored under 50% in a knowledge test, which assessed understanding of HCV
disease, transmission, and treatment.
Among 292 respondents recruited through outpatient clinics, many
reported fear about their infection, with 56.8% acknowledging that they were
scared about their HCV status, and 31.7% feeling stigmatized by
Worryingly, 18.0% thought that HCV does not cause health
problems, 15.2% thought that they do not require treatment due to lack of
symptoms, and 20.7% said feeling ashamed prevented them from seeking
Knowledge scores were significantly lower among the 26.6% of
patients who thought medication was unnecessary for HCV, than for those who did
not endorse this belief, at a mean of 15.1 vs 17.5 out of 34, with a similar gap
in knowledge between those who did and did not say they felt ashamed about HCV
(15.3 vs 17.2).
While knowledge levels were comparable between mono- and
co-infected patients, co-infected participants had more knowledge about HCV
treatment and about HIV, and perceived less stigma from HCV. The authors suggest
this may be due to their ongoing HIV care, and that these patients may perceive
their HIV-positive status as more stigmatizing than
Additionally, 87 patients took an abridged version of the survey
before and after a 1-hour education session designed to improve knowledge and
attitudes regarding HCV. The authors found that while this did not lead to
changes in the respondents' attitudes, it did increase their mean knowledge
score from a mean of 17.2 to 23.3 points out of
"However, re-education and ongoing support may be necessary to
maintain patients' knowledge level about HCV," say Jain and colleagues,
writing in the Journal of Viral
"There also remains a need to develop interventions that could
specifically modify attitudes towards HCV treatment," they
Despite effective treatments, which can lead to high rates of
sustained virological response, many mono-and co-infected HCV patients fail to
get treatment, the authors explain.
"Future studies are needed to effectively change attitudes and
determine whether those changes will affect health behaviour among mono-infected
and co-infected populations," they conclude.
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