• Vol. 36 No. 10, 797–800
  • 15 October 2007

Public Misperceptions About Transmission of Hepatitis B Virus in Singapore

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ABSTRACT

Introduction: Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is endemic in Asia. Good public knowledge on disease transmission is one way of controlling spread of HBV. We aimed to study the general knowledge on HBV among the general public in Singapore, which is moderately prevalent with HBV. Materials and Methods: Before conducting a public education seminar on liver diseases, a 16-point questionnaire survey was conducted among the participants. Misperceptions (if any) were identified, and factors associated with knowledge score were analysed by multivariate analysis. Results: One hundred and ninety-two subjects completed the questionnaire. The mean age was 52 years, 78 (41%) were male, 183 (95%) were Chinese, 17 (9%) were known hepatitis B carriers and 73 (38%) had completed college education. The mean knowledge score was 10.7 (out of a maximum of 16). Most misperceptions were in the category of HBV transmission. At multivariate analysis, having college education was the only independent factor associated with a high knowledge score. Conclusion: Although HBV infection is moderately prevalent in Singapore, many misperceptions existed among the general public, especially on the mode of transmission. Better education was related to better knowledge of HBV. Further public education should be targeted to clear the misperceptions identified, and be specifically targeted to the less educated.


Chronic hepatitis B (CHB) is an important global health problem, with more than 350 million individuals affected worldwide. CHB is particularly important in Asia, as 4% to 10% of the total population are affected, and approximately 75% of patients with CHB worldwide reside in Asia.1,2 During the course of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, an estimated 15% to 40% of CHB patients would develop complications such as acute exacerbation, liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).1-3 HBV infection imposes a significant socioeconomic burden in many Asian countries.4,5

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