Background: To clarify the role of heterosexual transmission of hepatitis C virus (HCV) and to identify associated risk factors.
Goal: To compare risk factors with infection among women with HCV, HIV-1, and hepatitis B virus (HBV).
Study design: A cross-sectional study of the prevalence of HCV, HIV-1, and HBV in a sample of 599 sexually active, nontransfused, inner-city women with no evidence of intravenous drug use.
Results: The prevalence of HCV was 1.6%, compared with 2.0% for HIV-1 and 18.8% for HBV; 75% of women infected with HCV were also infected with HIV-1 or HBV (P < 0.001). Women engaging in very high-risk sexual behavior were 14.2 times more likely to have HCV than other women (95% CI, 1.8-642.5).
Conclusions: The epidemic of HCV may be facilitated by high-risk sexual behavior. The relatively high prevalence of HCV suggests the need for more widespread screening among inner-city females.