Measuring Stigma in Patients with Chronic Hepatitis C Virus Infections

Pilot Project

Measuring Stigma in Patients with Chronic Hepatitis C Virus Infections

Objective: This project will determine the validity of the HIV Stigma Scale among patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and HCV/HIV co-infection, and validate an instrument to investigate perceptions of stigma among HCV populations. We will use the scale to measure differences in perceptions of stigma across patient populations. This is the pilot study in the Principal Investigator’s dissertation research on perceptions of stigma as a barrier in access to healthcare among HCV patients.

Background: Over 4.5 million people in the United Stated have HCV, and the incidence is increasing with the opioid epidemic. Chronic HCV is a leading cause of liver transplantation, hepatic decompensation, and hepatocellular carcinoma4 in the United States. Treatment of HCV decreases progression of liver disease and disease transmission, in addition to prolonging survival and improving health-related quality of life. However, an overwhelming proportion HCV patients experience stigma in health care, which may be a barrier to seeking curative treatment.