Knowledge of Hepatitis C and Awareness of Infection in the Egyptian Community
Continuous transmission of HCV infection in Egypt still exists. Prevention of primary HCV infection is a public health issue of major importance particularly through targeted HCV awareness efforts. Understanding the characteristics of persons who have deficient knowledge or are unaware of their infection can help target appropriate education and early detection strategy. The aim of this study was to assess the mode of transmission knowledge level and its determinants and show the level of awareness by describing how infection is first detected in Egyptian patients.
A comparative descriptive study was performed in which 1024 HCV seropositive and 1046 HCV seronegative participants were asked an open-ended question regarding HCV mode of transmission. HCV seropositive patients were also interviewed about how they got aware of their infection.
Two thirds of HCV seropositives and HCV seronegatives had relevant knowledge and one third of them do not know how HCV is transmitted. Women and older uninfected participants were significantly more knowledgeable. The level of education was associated with relevant knowledge. Active diagnosis was barely looked for, while diagnosis after becoming symptomatic occurred in almost half of the cases. Participants who were accidentally aware of their HCV positive status were more likely to be males, older than 45 years, urban residents, engaged in high risk occupation, married, literate and lived abroad.
HCV knowledge needs to be improved across the whole community with a special focus on reaching population with lower educational levels. An integrated national HCV screening strategy needs to be adopted and directed to high risk groups to improve early detection.