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, 99 (4), 389-92

Hepatitis-C Prevalence in an Urban native-American Clinic: A Prospective Screening Study


Hepatitis-C Prevalence in an Urban native-American Clinic: A Prospective Screening Study

Amy S Neumeister et al. J Natl Med Assoc.


Background: Native-American populations are disproportionately burdened by chronic liver disease, and the prevalence of hepatitis C (HCV) in native Americans is unknown.

Purpose: To determine the prevalence of hepatitis C in a local native-American population via a prospective screening study.

Procedures: Two-hundred-forty-three native Americans (161 females/82 males) using an urban clinic and representing > 30 tribes from across the United States were screened. Mean age was 41 +/- 1 years. Hepatitis-C screening was by anti-HCV with confirmation by HCV RNA. A questionnaire assessed potential risk factors for HCV.

Findings: Anti-HCV antibodies were found in 11.5% (95% CI: 7.5-15.5%). HCV RNA was present by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in 8.6% (95% CI: 5.1-12.1%) and was more common in males [13.4% (95% CI: 6.0-20.8%)] than females [6.2% (95% CI: 2.5-9.9%)]. The most common potential risk factors for chronic HCV infection were intravenous (IV) drug or cocaine use (p < 0.0001), tattoos > 5 years old (p < 0.0001) and having a sexual partner with HCV (p = 0.0063).

Conclusion: HCV prevalence is higher in an urban native-American clinic population than reported in the general U.S. population. Use of IV drugs is the most prevalent risk factor, but tattoos and sexual transmission may also be important.

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