, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 151-163

Hepatitis B Knowledge and Practices Among Cambodian American Women in Seattle, Washington

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Abstract

Southeast Asians have higher liver cancer rates than any other racial/ethnic group in the US. Approximately 80 percent of liver cancers are etiologically associated with hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection which is endemic in Southeast Asia. An in-person survey of Cambodian women (n = 320) was conducted in Seattle, Washington, during 1999. The questionnaire included items about HBV knowledge, beliefs, and practices. Prior to being provided with a description of the disease, only about one-half (56 percent) of our respondents had heard of HBV infection. Less than one-quarter (23 percent) of the study group thought that asymptomatic individuals can transmit the disease to others. Most thought that HBV infection can cause liver cancer (54 percent) and death (72 percent). However, a minority thought that infection can be lifelong (24 percent) and incurable (15 percent). Only 38 percent reported they had been serologically tested for HBV. Finally, of those who had been tested and thought they were susceptible, two-thirds (67 percent) had not been vaccinated. Lower levels of education were associated with lower levels of HBV knowledge and serologic testing. Our findings suggest that Cambodian immigrants have low levels of HBV knowledge, serologic testing, and vaccination; and demonstrate a need for targeted educational interventions aimed at reducing HBV-related liver cancer mortality among Southeast Asian communities.