Document Type




Format of Original

12 p.

Publication Date



SAGE Publications

Source Publication

Qualitative Health Research

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

doi: 10.1177/1049732308322603


Hepatitis C (HCV) is the most common chronic blood borne virus in the United States. Despite this fact, there is a startling lack of awareness about HCV among individuals who may have contracted the virus. This study, grounded in self-efficacy theory, analyzes public service announcements (PSAs) for HCV. Using focus groups to contextualize the responses of individuals living with HCV, the authors conclude that stigma and structural barriers pose the greatest challenges for health communicators trying to reach at-risk populations. The findings suggest that expanded use of celebrity appeals, realistic drug portrayals, more extensive use of social networking in tandem with non-traditional media, and tapping into veterans, while minimizing fear tactics and maximizing self-efficacy messages, offer new hope for successful health communication strategies. With 3.9 million people in the United States infected with HCV, this study offers urgently needed communications strategies to address this silent epidemic.


Accepted version. Qualitative Health Research, Vol. 18, No. 10 (October 2008): 1401-1412. DOI. © 2008 SAGE Publications. Used with permission.

Stephanie Christopher was affiliated with the Medical College of Wisconsin at the time of publication.

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