The seroprevalence of untreated chronic hepatitis c virus (HCV) infection and associated risk factors in male irish prisoners: A cross-sectional study, 2017
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Laboratory-based antibody test,Laboratory-based PCR/RNA (confirmatory) test,Laboratory-based HCV core antigen (cAg) confirmatory test
Introduction: Data on chronic hepatitis C (HCV) infection prevalence in European prisons are incomplete and impact the public health opportunity that incarceration provides. Aim(s): We aimed to estimate the seroprevalence of untreated chronic HCV infection and to identify associated risk factors in an Irish male prison. Method(s): We conducted a cross-sectional study involving a researcher-administered questionnaire, review of medical records and HCV serology. Result(s): Of 422 prisoners (78.0% of the study popula-tion) who participated in the study, 298 (70.6%) completed the questionnaire and 403 (95.5%) were tested for HCV antibodies. Of those tested, 92 (22.8%) were HCV antibody-positive, and of those, 53 (57.6%) were HCV RNA-positive, 23 (25.0%) had spontaneous clearance, 16 (17.4%) had a sustained viral response, 10 (11.0%) were co-infected with HIV and six (6.0%) with HBV. The untreated chronic HCV seroprevalence estimate was 13.1% and the seroprevalence of HCV among prisoners with a history of injecting drug use (IDU) was 79.7%. Risk factors significantly associated with past HCV infection were IDU (p < 0.0001), having received a prison tattoo (p < 0.0001) or a non-sterile community tattoo (p < 0.0001), sharing needles and other drug-taking paraphernalia (p < 0.0001). Small numbers of prisoners had a history of sharing razors (n=10; 3.4%) and toothbrushes (n=3; 1.0%) while incarcerated. On multivariable analysis, history of receiving a non-sterile community tattoo was the only significant risk factor associated with HCV acquisition (after IDU was removed from the model) (p = 0.005, beta = 0.468). Conclusion(s): The level of untreated chronic HCV infection in Irish prisons is high, with IDU the main associated risk. Copyright © 2019, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). All rights reserved.