Hi all! This is Chari from the Hepatitis B Foundation. Since 2020, we have been working on a project to better understand knowledge and misperceptions of liver cancer risk among communities that are highly impacted by hepatitis B. We want to better understand how people think about the link between hepatitis B and liver cancer, and how we can use what we learn to develop better education and health communication programs globally.
We conducted 15 focus groups and some interviews with people living in the U.S. who were from diverse communities (who had immigrated from other places): People from China, Vietnam, Korea, Haiti, Senegal, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, Micronesia, Ethiopia, Philippines, Hmong, Burkina Faso.
We learned that overall, there is low awareness about the link between hepatitis B and liver cancer. For the most part, communities think of hepatitis B separately from liver cancer. Many people in the focus groups felt that if we did a better job of helping people make the link between hepatitis B and liver cancer, people might be more likely to get tested for hepatitis B, and to seek or stay in medical care if they have hepatitis B.
We also saw many differences between groups, in terms of how they want to learn about health information - but some similarities. We asked the focus group participants how they would want to learn about the link between hepatitis B and liver cancer, and what types of messages would work best in their community. All participants felt that messages should be hopeful and optimistic, while also showing statistics to help people understand the risk. All participants had specific cultural norms that need to be followed in terms of health messaging - including being careful about discussing sexual transmission, and not discussing death or mortality. Most participants felt that health education strategies needed to be focused towards older and younger generations separately - that older generations like to learn more from written materials, newspapers, and in-language - and that younger generations like to learn more from social media and using technology.
We are in the process of publishing the details of what we did and what we learned. We have three papers we are currently writing and submitted to journals. We are also using what we learned to develop cultural and language specific health communications campaigns that we hope to launch in 2024. We are working with people from diverse communities to help develop and get feedback on our materials.
We know that overall, there is know awareness and knowledge about hepatitis B globally. We want to improve awareness and knowledge to help create more conversation and prioritization around hepatitis B, as we work towards elimination. We hope that ultimately, what we are doing will help more people better understand the link between hepatitis B and liver cancer. We think that this will help communities have better and more informed discussions about hepatitis B, and can help promote sustainable care and treatment in some communities.
I look forward to hearing feedback, and thanks for listening!