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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Hepatitis B knowledge, perceptions and practices in the French general population: the room for improvement

Cécile Brouard1*, Arnaud Gautier2, Leïla Saboni3, Christine Jestin2, Caroline Semaille1, Nathalie Beltzer3 and for the KABP France group

Author Affiliations

1 Department for infectious diseases, French Institute for Public Health Surveillance (InVS), 12, rue du Val d’Osne, Saint-Maurice Cedex, 94415, France

2 National Institute for Prevention and Health Education (Inpes), 42, Boulevard de la Libération, Saint-Denis Cedex, 93203, France

3 Paris Region Health Observatory, 43, rue Beaubourg, Paris, 75003, France

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:576  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-576

Published: 13 June 2013

Abstract

Background

Little is known about the knowledge, perceptions and prevention practices of the French general population with respect to Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. This article describes this population’s knowledge of HBV, their perceptions of the disease, and associated screening and vaccination practices. It compares these indicators with those observed in the same population for HIV, an infection with a chronic course and transmission modes resembling those of HBV.

Methods

A module on hepatitis B was added into the HIV KABP (Knowledge, Attitudes, Beliefs and Practices) survey which was carried out telephonically in 2010 among a random sample of 9,014 individuals aged between 18–69 and living in metropolitan France.

Results

Compared with HIV, the general population was less aware that needle exchange during intravenous drug use and sexual relationships are HBV transmission modes (HBV: 89.9% and 69.7%; HIV: 99.1% and 99.4%). The fear of both illnesses was similar at 20.3%. The individual perceived risk of infection was higher for HBV than for HIV with, respectively, 60.8% and 40.3% of respondents believing they had an equal or greater risk of being infected than the average person. However, the percentage of those reporting HBV screening during their lifetime (27.4%) was half that for HIV screening (61.4%). In multivariate analysis, HBV screening was reported more often by individuals born in areas with high HBV endemicity (OR = 2.1 [95% CI: 1.5-2.9]) than by those born in low HBV endemicity areas, and more often by those who reported they had taken drugs intravenously during their lifetime (OR = 2.2 [95% CI: 1.2-4.2]) than those who did not report such behavior. Almost one in two respondents (47%) reported HBV vaccination. The intermediate or high endemicity groups did not report vaccination more often than those born in low endemicity areas nor did those reporting intravenously drug use compared with those who did not.

Conclusions

This study highlights very contrasting levels of knowledge, perceptions and practices regarding HBV and HIV in the French general population. Our results demonstrate the need to improve the general and high-risk populations’ knowledge of HBV, in particular concerning sexual transmission, in order to improve screening and vaccination practices.