Risk factors for acquisition of hepatitis C virus infection in blood donors: results of a case-control study

Gastroenterology. 1999 Apr;116(4):893-9. doi: 10.1016/s0016-5085(99)70072-7.


Background & aims: Few studies have explored risk factors predicting hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in blood donors; their results are contradictory. The aim of this study was to evaluate the association between HCV infection and various risk factors in Canadian volunteer blood donors.

Methods: Four transfusion centers were involved in this case-control study. A total of 267 confirmed anti-HCV-positive blood donors were interviewed along with 1068 seronegative blood donors matched for sex, age, donation site, and date. Information was collected using a structured telephone interview. The main outcome measures were odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for various risk factors from univariate and multivariate analyses using conditional logistic regression.

Results: By univariate analysis, 23 variables were associated with anti-HCV positivity. In the final multivariate analysis, only 5 factors remained independently predictive of HCV infection: previous intravenous drug use (OR, 127.5; 95% CI, 26.0-625.0), having lived in a prison or juvenile detention center (56.1; 11.4-275.7), previous blood transfusion (10.5; 4.7-23.2), sexual contact with an intravenous drug user (6.9; 3.1-15.2), and tattooing (5.7; 2.5-13).

Conclusions: Most blood donors acquire infection by percutaneous exposure to contaminated blood. A role for sexual transmission is suggested by this study.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Donors*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Hepatitis C / etiology
  • Hepatitis C / transmission*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / transmission
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / complications