, Volume 48, Issue 4, pp 815-820

Risk Factors for Hepatitis C Virus Infection Among Patients Receiving Health Care in a Department of Veterans Affairs Hospital

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Abstract

A cross-sectional, seroepidemiological study was conducted to determine the prevalence and risk factors for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection among veterans receiving health care from the VA. Among 274 evaluated outpatients, anti-HCV was found in 27 (9.9%). The prevalence of anti-HCV was 3.7% among 190 individuals who reported no illicit drug use compared to 24.7% among 81 subjects who had used drugs (P < 0.001). The prevalence of anti-HCV was 4.8% among 208 veterans who had never been incarcerated compared to 27.9% among 61 veterans who had been incarcerated (P < 0.001). A multivariate model found the following factors to be independently associated with anti-HCV: having used illicit drugs [odds ratio (OR) = 3.7, 95% CI 1.3–11.8; P = 0.001), having been incarcerated ( OR = 4.4, 95% CI 1.7–10.9; P = 0.001), and a yearly income less than US $10,000 ( OR = 3.5, 95% CI 1.3–9.4; P = 0.002). Because HCV infection was most strongly associated with illicit drug use, incarceration, and low income, these risk factors should be utilized to develop screening strategies among VA patients.