European Journal of Epidemiology

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 143–148 | Cite as

Incidence and risk for acute hepatitis C infection during imprisonment in Australia

  • Kate Dolan
  • Suzy Teutsch
  • Nicolas Scheuer
  • Michael Levy
  • William Rawlinson
  • John Kaldor
  • Andrew Lloyd
  • Paul Haber
Infectious Diseases


To determine hepatitis C incidence and the demographic and behavioural predictors in seronegative drug injecting prisoners. Prisoners in New South Wales, Australia who: were aged 18 years and over; reported IDU; had been continuously imprisoned; had a documented negative HCV antibody test result in prison in the last 12 months; provided written informed consent. Subjects were interviewed about their demographic characteristics and detailed risk factors for transmission prior to, and since, imprisonment. A blood sample was collected to screen for HCV antibodies by ELISA and RNA by PCR. Of 253 inmates recruited, 120 were continuously imprisoned and included in this analysis. Sixteen acquired HCV infection indicating an incidence of 34.2 per 100 person years (CI: 19.6–55.6). Risk factors for transmission included prior imprisonment, methadone treatment and greater than 10 years of education. Although the frequency of injecting was reduced in prison, 33.6% continued to inject drugs, most commonly methamphetamine, and 90% of these reported sharing injecting equipment. Prison inmates were at high risk of HCV infection, despite some reduction in high-risk behaviours and access to prevention services. To prevent HCV transmission in prisons, better prevention strategies are required.


Prisoners Hepatitis C Injecting drug use Incidence 



Hepatitis C virus


Injecting drug use(rs)


New South Wales


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kate Dolan
    • 1
  • Suzy Teutsch
    • 2
  • Nicolas Scheuer
    • 1
  • Michael Levy
    • 3
  • William Rawlinson
    • 4
  • John Kaldor
    • 5
  • Andrew Lloyd
    • 2
  • Paul Haber
    • 6
  1. 1.National Drug and Alcohol Research CentreUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Centre for Infection and Inflammation Research, School of Medical SciencesUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  3. 3.School of Public HealthThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia
  4. 4.Virology DivisionSEALS, Prince of Wales HospitalRandwickAustralia
  5. 5.National Centre for HIV Epidemiology and Clinical ResearchUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  6. 6.Drug Health Services, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and Discipline of Addiction MedicineUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia

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