Abstract for Oral/Poster Presentation
Breaking the Sound Barrier of Infectious Disease Discussions: A case study of the Cameroonian Immigrant Community in Maryland and the Hepatitis B Virus
Evalyne Metuge, M.A. Sustainable Development-Development Management, Sylvie Bello
Background: Numerous research studies have been done to create awareness on the hepatitis B virus. The majority being science-based programs to which socio-cultural behaviors and approaches to help reduce such incidences have been absent.
Methods: This research was based on a socio-cultural approach. In order for the participants to express themselves freely, men had a separate focus group session from the women in respect to cultural norms. Random surveys were done, to find out the general knowledge that the Cameroonian immigrant population in the state of Maryland has on the Hepatitis B virus. Four interviews, two with men, one of whom was a pastor and two with women. Two focus groups made of six women and six men.
Results: Given the cultural essence of this research, it was broken down into: understanding the disease, women’s perception of the disease and the problem, men’s perception of the disease and the problem and why it is not discussed in the community. Fifty percent were aware that there are diseases such as the Hepatitis B Virus; women expressed concern about polygamous marriages. Though very few men were not for the idea of polygamous marriages, they emphasized educating the youth about the virus and other diseases- HIV/AIDS. Both the men and women said that it was not discussed in the community because of lack of education, discrimination, stigma and traditional practices.
Conclusions: Having this awareness session with the Cameroonian immigrant community in Maryland did not only open up forums for discussion it also saw the birth of a new community with suggestions for further education of other communities.