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Stigmatization and discrimination of patients with chronic hepatitis C.

Background/Aim: Chronic hepatitis C (CHC) is often associated with injectable drug users and human immunodeficiency virus coinfection for which there is stigmatization in society. The aim of this study was to identify the presence of stigma and discrimination of patients with CHC, as well as the influence of sociodemographic factors on the occurrence of stigmatization.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was performed. Patients with CHC and conducted antiviral therapy completed an anonymous structured questionnaire consisting of sociodemographic questions and Hepatitis C stigma scale.

Results: Out of 154 patients 61.7% were male and 72.1% from the city; 59.7% have completed secondary school; 61.7% were employed before the disease while 31.8% after the disease; 45.5% were unsatisfactory with financial situation; 54.5% were married; 37.7% lived with a spouse and children; 86.4% in their own house/apartment; 5.2% of the patients were abandoned by their partners, while 35.7% consumed drugs. A statistical significance of the stigma score was found in those who lived in the city (p = 0.018), unmarried (p = 0.005), abandoned by the partners after the diagnosis of CHC (p < 0.001), drug users (p = 0.002) and those living with parents (p = 0.034). Univariate regression analysis singled out as significant: residence (p = 0.018), living with their parents (p = 0.046), abandonment by a partner (p < 0.001) and drug use (p = 0.002). A multivariate regression model of independent variables singled out abandonment by partners (Beta = 5.158, p = 0.007). Men disagree significantly with the two elements inside stigma [not the same as the others (p = 0.035)] and hurt by the reaction of others (p = 0.047)).

Conclusion: The presence of stigma in patients with CHC was proven. The results indicate the need to strengthen anti-stigma programs that will reduce their psychological and social problems and reduce stigmatization in society.

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