A survey of hepatitis C prevalence amongst the homeless community of Oxford

J Public Health Med. 2003 Dec;25(4):358-61. doi: 10.1093/pubmed/fdg088.


Hepatitis C (HCV) is an emerging health concern across the world, with 170 million people chronically infected and at risk of liver cancer, cirrhosis or liver failure. There is no vaccination and so it is important to learn as much as possible about how to prevent future infection. Modes of transmission include intravenous drug use (IDU), blood products, tattooing and, to a lesser extent, sexual intercourse. Homelessness is a risk factor of HCV because of the environments and behaviours associated with homeless communities such as poor hygiene, poor nutrition and high levels of IDU. The aim of this project was to determine the prevalence of HCV and its risk factors amongst the homeless community of Oxford, which is the second largest in the country. Ninety-eight individuals of the Oxford homeless community were interviewed and tested for HCV. The results gave an estimated HCV prevalence of 26.5 percent. The major risk factors in this population were IDU (past and present), age (over 20 years old) and sharing the paraphernalia used by i.v. drug users (e.g. spoons, foil and filters). With the exception of age, these risk factors could all be targeted in an attempt to reduce this prevalence and combat the major public health concern that HCV poses to the homeless community of Oxford.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Hepatitis C / epidemiology*
  • Homeless Persons*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology