Where are people being tested for anti-HCV in England? Results from sentinel laboratory surveillance

J Viral Hepat. 2008 Oct;15(10):729-39. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2893.2008.01000.x. Epub 2008 Jul 10.


Many people infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) are unaware of their infection and are, therefore. potentially infectious to others. To enable effective case-finding policies to be developed, an understanding of where people, and injecting drug users (IDUs) in particular, are accessing HCV antibody testing is needed. HCV antibody testing data were collected electronically from 21 sentinel laboratories in England between 2002 and 2006 in this cross-sectional study. Service types of the physician requesting the HCV test were identified and classified. Differences in people being tested in each service type and over time were investigated. Over half a million people were tested in 5 years. Whilst most testing took place in hospital, a large proportion of people were tested in community care, particularly in general practice surgeries and genito-urinary medicine clinics. Younger people were more likely to be tested in community care, and there was evidence that testing differed according to ethnic status. IDUs were tested in all parts of the health services, although the highest proportion positive were from prisons and specialist services for drug users. Testing increased between 2002 and 2005 whilst the proportion of people testing positive declined. Routine laboratory data can provide valuable information on where people are being tested for HCV. Risk exposures should be investigated and testing targeted to people at higher risk for infection. Local laboratories should review data on testing locations and proportion positive to inform local initiatives to improve testing and yield.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Community Health Centers
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • England / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Hepacivirus / immunology*
  • Hepatitis C / diagnosis*
  • Hepatitis C / epidemiology
  • Hepatitis C / immunology
  • Hepatitis C / virology
  • Hepatitis C Antibodies / blood*
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sentinel Surveillance*
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / complications*


  • Hepatitis C Antibodies