Health-related stigma is a cause of stress, alienation and discrimination that can serve as a barrier to prevention and care for infectious diseases such as HIV. Hepatitis B virus (HBV)-related stigma is common in Asian immigrants, but has not been formally evaluated. The aim of this study was to develop and validate the first HBV stigma instrument and to begin to evaluate HBV stigma in Chinese immigrants. The HBV stigma instrument was developed based on constructs from validated HIV stigma scales and organized into five domains. A written survey was compiled to include demographic data, HBV knowledge questions and stigma items. The survey was pilot tested in English and Chinese and then finalized. Data were obtained from 201 patients seen in an urban Chinatown Internal Medicine practice. The stigma items showed a high degree of reliability when assessed in aggregate (α = 0.85) as well as within individual domains. Stigma was greatest in the Fear of Contagion domain. Knowledge questions showed a corresponding deficit in understanding of modes of HBV transmission. An inverse relationship between stigma scores and familiarity with HBV provided evidence of construct validity. In multivariable analysis, having a family member with HBV and higher HBV knowledge subset scores were associated with lower degrees of stigma. In conclusion, the hepatitis B stigma instrument showed reliability and construct validity. The relationship identified between familiarity and knowledge regarding HBV with lower stigma scores provides the basis for the development of interventions to reduce HBV stigma.
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.