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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Public Health | doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2019.00304

A study of knowledge, experience and beliefs about hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in south western Uganda

Joseph Mugisha1,  Jolynne Mokaya2,  Dominic Bukenya1, Fatuma Ssembajja1,  Denis Mayambala1,  Robert Newton1, 3,  Philippa C. Matthews2, 4, 5* and  Janet Seeley1, 6
  • 1London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Uganda Research Unit, Medical Research Council (Uganda), Uganda
  • 2Peter Medawar Building for Pathogen Research, Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, United Kingdom
  • 3Department of Health Sciences, University of York, United Kingdom
  • 4Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, United Kingdom
  • 5NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, United Kingdom
  • 6Department of Global Health and Development, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of London, United Kingdom

Introduction: United Nations sustainable development goals aim for the elimination of viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030, leading to efforts to upscale the availability and accessibility of hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccination, diagnosis and treatment globally. However, a variety of societal factors, including beliefs, traditions, and stigma, can be a major obstacle to all of these interventions. We therefore set out to investigate how HBV is understood and described in communities in Uganda, and whether there is evidence of potential stigma.
Method: We carried out a qualitative formative study in two sites in South Western Uganda: a village in Kalungu district (site A) and an area on the outskirts of Masaka town (site B). We undertook a rapid assessment to investigate how adults describe HBV infection and their perceptions about the infection. We collected data by conducting a transect walk, observations, community group discussions, and in-depth interviews, sampling a total of 131 individuals. We used inductive content analysis to extract key themes associated with HBV.
Results: There is no specific word for HBV infection in local languages, and knowledge about this infection is varied. While some individuals were completely unfamiliar with HBV infection, some had heard of HBV. Radio was a common source of information. There was awareness of HBV as a cause of liver disease, limited knowledge regarding the cause, mode of transmission and treatment. Stigma in HBV may be rare in this community due to limited understanding and experience of HBV.
Conclusion: There is an ongoing need to improve awareness and understanding of HBV in this community. Careful dissemination of accurate information is required to promote acceptance of interventions for prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

Keywords: stigma, Hepatitis, Infection, Uganda, Africa, HBV

Received: 31 Jul 2019; Accepted: 04 Oct 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Mugisha, Mokaya, Bukenya, Ssembajja, Mayambala, Newton, Matthews and Seeley. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mx. Philippa C. Matthews, Peter Medawar Building for Pathogen Research, Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom,