Awareness and risk factors associated with barbers in transmission of hepatitis B and C from Pakistani population: barber’s role in viral transmission

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Background: In Pakistan, most patients with Hepatitis B and C have history of facial and armpit shaving from barbers. Objective: Evaluate the awareness and risk factors associated with barbers in transmission of Hepatitis B and C. Subjects and methods: A cross sectional survey was conducted in Rawalpindi and Islamabad, the twin capital cities of Pakistan between January and July 2009. Five hundred and eight barbershops were surveyed. Results: Out of 508 barber shops, 99.8% and 98.2% were washing their razor with water and water plus antiseptic solution, respectively, while 99.8% were using new blades. Only 39.6% knew that hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) were viral diseases, 26.6% knew that it can lead to cancer, 90.7% thought that hepatitis could be transferred by blade sharing, 47.8% knew that a vaccine for HBV was available, and 43.0% had education beyond the primary level. None of the barbers used a new or washed apron/towel on every customer. Conclusion: In Pakistan, a small number of barbers are shaving clients with an old style razor with a permanent blade. There is moderate awareness about the various modes of transmission of hepatitis among the barbers, and most of them don’t know about vaccination. A predominant number of them are considering interferon treatment as a vaccine for hepatitis B and C.

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