Background: African immigrants in the US have substantially higher prevalences of viral hepatitis and hepatocellular carcinoma than the general population. In Minnesota, which has the third largest state population of African immigrants in the US, the incidence and mortality for hepatocellular carcinoma among Blacks is 3 times higher than Caucasians (The 2012 Minnesota Department of Health Cancer Report). Most African immigrants are unaware of their risk for hepatocellular carcinoma which contributes to substantial liver health disparities. Limited research exists on the burden of viral hepatitis and hepatocellular carcinoma among African immigrants. Thus, we conducted a pilot study to evaluate the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors (KAB) of African immigrants related to liver disease.

Methods: The study used a community-engaged research framework. The research team consisted of stakeholders from an academic medical center and Ethiopian, Liberian, and Kenyan community-based organizations and faith-based centers. A semi-structured focus group guide was developed using a KAB approach with open-ended questions. Content analysis was used to thematically code the transcribed data. Qualitative analysis software (ATLAS.TI) was used to organize codes and highlight major themes contributing to liver health disparities.

Results: We enrolled 63 participants and conducted 9 focus groups (1 in Amharic, 2 in Oromo, and 6 in English) in Rochester and Minneapolis, Minnesota. The mean age was 47±19; 32 participants (51%) were male; the median years lived in the US was 12 years. General knowledge of the modes of transmission of viral hepatitis and of the prevention and development of liver cancer was minimal. Themes related to barriers to viral hepatitis screening and vaccination included perceived cultural stigma and use of traditional remedies. Common sources of general health information included internet, pamphlets, friends, family, spiritual leaders and healthcare professionals. Healthcare professionals are the source for information on screening, prevention, transmission and treatment of viral hepatitis and liver cancer. Most participants sought healthcare at reputable medical institutions. Media sources and community-based events at faith-centers were preferred modes of information dissemination on viral hepatitis and liver cancer screening and prevention.

Conclusions: Participants identified several factors contributing to the increased burden of hepatocellular carcinoma in Minnesota including lack of knowledge of disease transmission and progression, cultural stigma/taboos, and lack of preventive care. Culturally and linguistically appropriate interventions are needed to increase awareness, prevention, early detection, and treatment of viral hepatitis and liver cancer among African immigrants in Minnesota.

Citation Format: Essa A. Mohamed, Nasra H. Giama, Hassan M. Shaleh, Linda M. Kerandi, Abdul M. Oseini, Hager F. Ahmed Mohammed, Henry M. Kerandi, Dekermue Togbah, Abdiwahab O. Ali, Ibrahim A. Waaeys, Hamdi A. Ali, Safra A. Mohamed, Hawa M. Ali, Joyce E. Balls-Berry, Lewis R. Roberts. Evaluating knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors about viral hepatitis and hepatocellular carcinoma among recent African immigrants in Minnesota: A community-engaged qualitative study. [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the Eighth AACR Conference on The Science of Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved; Nov 13-16, 2015; Atlanta, GA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2016;25(3 Suppl):Abstract nr C01.