European Journal of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases

, Volume 12, Issue 9, pp 673-676

Prevalence of antibodies to hepatitis C virus and association with intravenous drug abuse and tattooing in a national prison in Norway

  • D. S. HolsenAffiliated withHealth Service, Bergen National PrisonDepartment of Dermatovenereology, The Gade Institute, Haukeland Hospital
  • , S. HarthugAffiliated withDepartment of Medicine, The Gade Institute, Haukeland Hospital
  • , H. MyrmelAffiliated withDepartment of Microbiology and Immunology, The Gade Institute, Haukeland Hospital

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A study was performed in order to determine the prevalence of anti-hepatitis C virus (HCV) antibodies, the risk factors for HCV infection and the markers of hepatic disease in a population of prisoners. Of 101 new prisoners admitted to a Norwegian national prison over a three month period, 70 were included in the study, of whom 32 (46 %) were anti-HCV positive. Intravenous drug abuse was the predominant risk factor for HCV infection, although a history of tattooing was found by logistic regression analysis to be a significant risk factor independent of intravenous drug abuse. Most anti-HCV positive prisoners had a history of previous incarcerations. Among the anti-HCV positive subjects, increased alanine aminotransferase (>50 U/l) was found in 23 (72 %). HCV infection was the major cause of hepatic abnormalities in the study population. Only 15 (47 %) of the anti-HCV positive prisoners reported knowledge of previous hepatic disease.