Prevalence, distribution, and correlates of hepatitis C virus infection among homeless adults in Los Angeles.
ABSTRACT We documented the prevalence, distribution, and correlates of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection among urban homeless adults.
We sampled a community-based probability sample of 534 homeless adults from 41 shelters and meal programs in the Skid Row area of downtown Los Angeles, California. Participants were interviewed and tested for HCV, hepatitis B, and HIV. Outcomes included prevalence, distribution, and correlates of HCV infection; awareness of HCV positivity; and HCV counseling and treatment history.
Overall, 26.7% of the sample tested HCV-positive and 4.0% tested HIV-positive. In logistic regression analysis, independent predictors of HCV infection for the total sample included older age, less education, prison history, and single- and multiple-drug injection. Among lifetime drug injectors, independent predictors of HCV infection included older age, prison history, and no history of intranasal cocaine use. Among reported non-injectors, predictors of HCV infection included older age, less education, use of non-injection drugs, and three or more tattoos. Sexual behaviors and snorting or smoking drugs had no independent relationship with HCV infection. Among HCV-infected adults, nearly half (46.1%) were unaware of their infection.
Despite the high prevalence of HCV infection, nearly half of the cases were hidden and few had ever received any HCV-related treatment. While injection drug use was the strongest independent predictor, patterns of injection drug use, non-injection drug use, prison stays, and multiple tattoos were also independent predictors of HCV. Findings suggest that urgent interventions are needed to screen, counsel, and treat urban homeless adults for HCV infection.
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ABSTRACT: Objectives: Despite the fact that a considerable portion of hepatitis C virus (HCV) positive individuals are viraemic, the risk of transmitting HCV to others is context dependent. Prison is a particularly risky environment as HCV prevention tools are often unavailable. Using data from a cross-sectional study conducted in centres for HCV testing in southeastern France, we aimed to compare the patterns of risk factors in HCV-positive inmates with those in the general population. Setting: 26 centres for HIV/HCV testing in southeastern France (23 in the general population and 3 in prison). Primary outcome measure: HCV seropositivity measured with ELISA test. Methods: A propensity score method to ensure that the general and inmate populations could be compared and a multimodel averaging to estimate the degree (strong, weak, none) of the association of a number of specific factors with HCV seropositivity in each group. Results: Among the 52 082 participants, HCV infection prevalence was 1.5% and 5.2% in the general (n=46 125) and inmate (n=5957) populations, respectively. In both populations, 'drug injection without snorting' and 'drug injection with snorting' were very strongly associated with HCV seropositivity. Among inmates, 'drug snorting alone' (OR (95% CI) 2.21 (1.39 to 3.52) was also a strong correlate while tattoos, piercings (OR (95% CI) 1.22 (0.92 to 1.61)) and the sharing of toiletry items (OR (95% CI) 1.44 (0.84 to 2.47)) were weak correlates. Conclusions: The pattern of risk factors associated with HCV seropositivity is different between the general and prison populations, injection and snorting practices being more prevalent in the latter. Access to prevention measures in prisons is not only a public health issue but also a human right for inmates who deserve equity of care and prevention.BMJ Open 10/2014; 4(10):e005694. DOI:10.1136/bmjopen-2014-005694 · 2.06 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The advent of highly effective antiviral regimens will make the eradication of hepatitis C in high-income countries such as the United States technically feasible. But eradicating hepatitis C will require escalating our response to the epidemic in key domains, including surveillance and epidemiology, prevention, screening, care and treatment, policy, research, and advocacy. Surveillance must be nimble enough to quickly assess the magnitude of new transmission patterns as they emerge. Basic prevention strategies – community-based outreach and education, testing and counseling, and access to sterile injection equipment and opioid substitution therapies – must be scaled up and adapted to target groups in which new epidemics are emerging. All adults should be screened for hepatitis C, but special efforts must focus on groups with increased prevalence through community outreach and rapid testing. Government, industry, and payers must work together to assure full access to health services and antiviral drugs for everyone who is infected. Access to the new regimens must not be compromised by excessively high prices or arbitrary payer restrictions. Partnerships must be forged between hepatitis providers and programs that serve people who inject illicit drugs. Healthcare providers and systems, especially primary care practitioners, need education and training in treating hepatitis C and caring for substance-using populations. Services must be provided to the disadvantaged and stigmatized members of society who bear a disproportionate burden of the epidemic. Environments must be created where people who use drugs can receive prevention and treatment services without shame or stigma. Action is needed to end the policy of mass incarceration of people who use drugs, reduce the stigma associated with substance use, support the human rights of people who use drugs, expand social safety net services for the poor and the homeless, remove the legal barriers to hepatitis C prevention, and build public health infrastructure to reach, engage, and serve marginalized populations. Governments must take action to bring about these changes. Public health agencies must work with penal institutions to provide prevention and treatment services, including antiviral therapy, to those in need in jails and prisons or on probation or parole. Research is needed to guide efforts in each of these domains. Strong and sustained political advocacy will be needed to build and sustain support for these measures. Leadership must be provided by physicians, scientists, and the public health community in partnership with community advocates. Eliminating hepatitis C from the United States is possible, but will require a sustained national commitment to reach, test, treat, cure, and prevent every case. With strong political leadership, societal commitment, and community support, hepatitis C can be eradicated in the United States. If this is to happen in our lifetimes, the time for initial steps is now. This article forms part of a symposium in Antiviral Research on “Hepatitis C: next steps toward global eradication.”Antiviral Research 10/2014; 110. DOI:10.1016/j.antiviral.2014.07.015 · 3.43 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Improved drugs have been approved for the treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV), but many people are unaware of improved therapies that are now available to cure the illness in a high percentage of patients. The objectives of the Test, Listen, Cure (TLC) Hepatitis C Community Awareness Campaign include the development and implementation of a health education and promotion campaign in Memphis, Tennessee, and surrounding areas of western Tennessee, eastern Arkansas, and northern Mississippi, to increase community awareness about HCV, and to provide up-to-date provider education on HCV screening and treatment. The health education and promotion campaign, which will be conducted in collaboration with area hospitals, clinics, and nonprofit organizations, will provide information about how HCV infection is transmitted, risk factors for the disease, the importance of screening and treatment, and the availability of improved treatment for the disease. A second objective will be to provide continuing professional education on HCV screening and treatment to a minimum of 200 area health care providers, including primary care and internal medicine physicians and residents, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, providers who care for homeless persons, and dialysis unit nurses. Health education materials will be developed for this community awareness campaign that is culturally appropriate for African Americans and suitable for people with lower health literacy and educational attainment. Information will be compiled and disseminated about area providers who provide screening services and treatment for persons with HCV in order to facilitate linkages to care. Four focus groups of 8-10, African American adults aged 40-64, will be conducted to test the health education materials. The provider education on HCV will also address patient-physician communication and cultural competency. The National Medical Association regional chapters and expert physician consultants will provide assistance with delivering the education program. Results from this one year project will be available in early 2016. Depending on the availability of funding and successful implementation of the project, the TLC campaign will be extended to similar cities in the United States.02/2015; 4(1):e13. DOI:10.2196/resprot.3822