Hepatitis C is among Australia’s most common notifiable infectious diseases and the majority of those affected develop chronic illness. Management of other chronic illnesses has been shown to be most effective when gender‐specific health education and support is offered. This paper examines gender differences in the health‐seeking behaviour of men and women with hepatitis C. Data are from two separate studies, recruited largely from non‐clinical sources, of women (n = 362) and of men (n = 308) with hepatitis C, conducted in Victoria, Australia in 2000 and 2002, respectively. Participants completed a self‐administered questionnaire that included questions on health and use of medical services. Women without symptoms (47%) were more likely than men (18%) to seek hepatitis C care (p<0.001), to rate their health poorly (47% vs. 35%; p = 0.002), and to perceive discrimination from health providers (47% versus 40%; p = 0.009). Men (36%) were less likely then women (6%) to acknowledge needing medical support for hepatitis C (p<0.001) and gender was an independent predictor of seeing a doctor specifically for hepatitis C. Both male and female current injecting drug users were less likely than others to access hepatitis C care, with male injecting drug users (18%) significantly less likely than female injecting drug users (33%) to be referred to a specialist (p = 0.002). Results suggest that the impact of hepatitis C is perceived differently by men and women. Strategies to address primary health care issues for people with hepatitis C need to take account of both gender and the additional complications of current injecting drug use.
Read More: http://informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14659890601010373