Division of Digestive and Liver Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX, USA.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment is rapidly changing but little is known about patients' attitudes and knowledge about HCV. This study used a cross-sectional survey to examine the relationship between HCV knowledge and attitudes towards HCV in patients with HCV mono-infection and HIV/HCV co-infection. Subsequently, an education intervention was developed with an abridged version of the cross-sectional survey administered before and after the education session to assess changes in knowledge and attitudes. 292 people participated in the cross-sectional survey, and 87 people participated in the education intervention. In the cross-sectional survey, the mean knowledge score regarding HCV was low (<50% of the total possible score). Mono-infected and co-infected individuals shared similar knowledge deficits and attitudes towards HCV despite having distinct demographic differences. Attitudes endorsed by patients included the following: 57% feared the consequences of HCV on their life, 37% felt HCV was not fatal, 27% did not believe they needed HCV medication, 21% felt ashamed of having HCV and 16% felt HCV treatment was not important. Attitudes that reflected indifference and shame towards HCV were associated with lower knowledge scores (HCV knowledge score of 15.1 vs. 17.5, P < 0.01 for indifference and 15.3 vs. 17.2 for shame, P = 0.02). The education intervention improved knowledge scores but did not modify the assessed attitudes. Intervention studies are needed to effectively change attitudes towards HCV infection and treatment.