Background: Previous evidence synthesis estimates of Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) in England did not consider excess HCV risk in ethnic minority populations. We incorporate new information on HCV risk among non-injectors by ethnic group, and additional information on injecting prevalence in order to generate new and updated estimates of HCV prevalence risk in England for 2005.
Methods: Bayesian evidence synthesis was used to combine multiple sources of data that directly or indirectly provide information on the populations at risk, or prevalence of HCV infection. HCV data were modelled by region, age group and sex as well as ethnicity for never-injectors and by injecting status (ex and current).
Results: Overall HCV antibody prevalence in England was estimated at 0.67% [95% credible interval (95% CrI): 0.50-0.94] of those aged 15-59 years, or 203 000 (153 000, 286 000) individuals. HCV prevalence in never-injectors remains low, even after accounting for ethnicity, with a prevalence of 0.05% (95% CrI 0.03-0.10) in those of white/other ethnicity and 0.76% (0.48-1.23) in South Asians. Estimates are similar to 2003, although patterns of injecting drug use are different, with an older population of current injecting drug users and lower estimated numbers of ex-injectors, but higher HCV prevalence.
Conclusions: Incorporating updated information, including data on ethnicity and improved data on injectors, gave similar overall estimates of HCV prevalence in England. Further information on HCV in South Asians and natural history of injecting are required to reduce uncertainty of estimates. This method may be applied to other countries and settings.