Background: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), one of the most fatal types of malignancy, is increasing worldwide, and particularly in Egypt where there is a confluence of its contributing factors, including high prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, widespread use of pesticides, and diets that are contaminated by aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) in rural areas. We investigated knowledge, attitudes, and prevention practices related to HCV infection and pesticides use in rural Egypt, where over half of the population resides and agriculture is the predominant occupation.
Methods: From two rural villages we recruited 67 residents aged 18-80 years, who completed a 40-item survey that included questions about demographics, knowledge of and protective measures relevant to pesticides use in the home and in agriculture, awareness and perceptions of HCV infection and its treatment and prevention.
Results: Among the 67 study participants, gender distribution was equal, the mean age was 47.2, and one third never attended school. More than 50% reported using pesticides at home, but fewer reported having some knowledge about its health effects. Twelve participants were agricultural workers, and 11 of them applied pesticides in the field and knew about their toxicity; however only one person was correctly using the appropriate protective equipment. Among all the participants, 52 did not know what causes HCV infection, and 42 of those who knew it was a virus mentioned incorrect modes of transmission; and 30 did not know the disease manifestations.
Conclusion: In rural Egypt, there is a significant lack of knowledge of HCV infection and its transmission mode and limited use of protective measures against pesticides despite familiarity with these chemicals.