Journal Article

Hepatitis C Virus Infection among Prisoners in the California State Correctional System

Rena K. Fox, Sue L. Currie, Jennifer Evans, Teresa L. Wright, Leslie Tobler, Bruce Phelps, Michael P. Busch and Kimberly A. Page-Shafer

in Clinical Infectious Diseases

Published on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America

Volume 41, issue 2, pages 177-186
Published in print July 2005 | ISSN: 1058-4838
Published online July 2005 | e-ISSN: 1537-6591 | DOI:
Hepatitis C Virus Infection among Prisoners in the California State Correctional System

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Background.Incarcerated populations are at high risk for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, yet prisoners are not routinely screened or treated for HCV infection. Understanding the risk factors of HCV infection among prisoners could help improve HCV interventions.

Methods.Prevalence and risk of HCV infection among 469 prisoners entering California State correctional facilities were assessed using HCV antibody screening, HCV RNA measurement, and structured interviews. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to identify independent correlates of HCV infection.

Results.The prevalence of HCV infection was 34.3% overall (95% confidence interval [CI], 30%–38%) and was 65.7% among those with a history of injection drug use (IDU), compared with 10.2% among those with no history of IDU (odds ratio [OR], 17.24; 95% CI, 10.52–28.25). Significant differences in HCV antibody positivity were found in association with age at first detention but not with the nature of the crime. Independent correlates of HCV infection included age, history of IDU, cumulative time of incarceration, biological sex (OR for females subjects compared with males subjects, 0.35; 95% CI, 0.13–0.96), and a history of having sex with a male IDU (OR, 4.42; 95% CI, 1.46–13.37). We identified significant differences in risk factors between male and female subjects—notably, that the risk of HCV infection was significantly elevated among female non-IDUs who reported having sexual partners with a history of IDU. Among non-IDUs, correlates of HCV infection included history of receipt of blood products and cumulative years of incarceration.

Conclusions.HCV infection is pervasive among the California prison population, including prisoners who are non-IDUs and women with high-risk sexual behavior. These results should promote consideration of routine HCV antibody screening and behavioral interventions among incarcerated men and women.

Journal Article.  4704 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Immunology ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Microbiology

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