Hepatitis C Knowledge, Barriers To Care, And Program Preferences Among Individuals in a Syringe Exchange Program: A Qualitative Assessment

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Dr. Rickie Brawer, Thomas Jefferson University

Dr. Stacey Trooskin, Drexel University


Hepatitis C is an urgent public health problem. Worldwide, the World Health Organization estimates that approximately 150 million people are chronically infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control estimates around 3.2 million people are chronically infected with HCV. The Institute of Medicine reports that approximately 150,000 Americans will die from viral hepatitis in the next decade. In the United States, the most common mode of transmission of HCV is through injection drug use. The overall aim of my Capstone is to assess knowledge of hepatitis C and the barriers to hepatitis C care among individuals attending a syringe exchange program in Philadelphia. Data was collected through focus group discussions, which followed a semi-structured focus group guide designed to elicit participants' knowledge and understanding of hepatitis C and hepatitis C care; to assess the participants' attitudes towards health care; and to assess the participants' priorities and preferences for a hepatitis C educational curriculum. The focus groups had a total of 19 participants (12 males and 7 females). All focus groups were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Transcripts were coded using an a priori coding scheme and entered into Excel. Coding was done independently by three coders for thematic analysis. The three themes include: (1) level of hepatitis C knowledge; (2) health care and hepatitis C disease management; and (3) preferences for a hepatitis C educational program. Based on my findings, it is evident that there is a need for more accessible HCV testing, education and support to reduce the barriers to HCV care among high-risk populations. Future strategies should include ways to increase early detection and HCV treatment for those at- risk of hepatitis C and to offer support to those who have or are newly diagnosed with hepatitis C.

Presentation: 34 minutes