Survey indicates lack of public awareness Hepatitis C

From: p
Published: Wed Oct 12 2005

The survey, conducted by SYNOVATE research, studied the behavior of a varied group of UAE nationals and citizens. A well balanced mix of 330 Emiratis, Arab and Asian expats coming from Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Al Ain were involved. The conclusions of the survey highlight the lack of awareness on how Hepatitis C is transmitted, the consequences of the disease and possible treatment of it.

The survey revealed that only 13% of the people surveyed had been tested for Hepatitis C. UAE nationals turned out having the lowest rates, only 10% of them ever had themselves tested for the disease. Comparatively, Asians scored 17% here. In addition, only 37% of the total people surveyed believed that Hepatitis C is a serious disease.

"The results of the survey are alarming, but not unexpected as we know that there has not been a lot of awareness creation done on the Hepatitis C disease. Public awareness and knowledge are the first steps to ensuring that people are protected against the disease. Visiting your doctor on a regular basis and being tested for the disease is an important way to protect yourself. Getting tested can be done with a very simple blood test." said Rima Khadra, communications manager at Roche.

The survey also indicates the lack of information available to people about the causes and effects of the disease and the available treatment.

Only 24% of the people questioned had earlier learned about the disease, through their doctor. However, only 10% of them visited their doctor on a regular basis. The survey revealed that most people heard of the disease via word of mouth. 55% claimed word of mouth as the most common source of information. "This makes it even more important to spread awareness on Hepatitis C and provide the public with the correct information regarding, the transmission, effects and available treatment for the disease." added Rima.

The survey revealed that there are a lot of misconceptions around the modes of transmission of hepatitis C. Unlike most other serious and highly infectious diseases, people are not sure how Hepatitis C is contracted. Although people understood that the disease can be passed via blood, a very low percentage knew that contaminated personal items, like scissors or tweezers, can also cause infection.

"Protecting your self from Hepatitis C is extremely important. However people can only do this when they are correctly informed on how they can be infected. Unfortunately this lack of knowledge also transcends to people who maybe have the disease but are unaware of the available treatment. Most importantly, although treatment is available for people infected with Hepatitis C, a third of the number of people interviewed, were not aware that the virus is curable." said Rima.

"I did not know I had the disease, up till the moment I went to the doctor for a regular check up. The blood tests revealed that I had been contaminated with Hepatitis C. When I heard this I was shocked and felt shamed. I have always considered myself to be a very neat and clean person. My doctor explained to me however, that I might have caught it unknowingly. I felt relieved when he told me that there are good treatments available for the disease now a days" Myrvat a Hepatitis C patient states.

170 million people worldwide are infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV). While the majority of chronically infected patients can now be successfully treated, approximately one third may believe they should ‘watch and wait’; mistakenly believing they are so-called ‘healthy carriers’ of the hepatitis C virus.

For more information on Hepatitis C please call toll free 800 4038 0r log on to
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