Hepatitis C among clients of health care for the homeless primary care clinics

J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2012 May;23(2):811-33. doi: 10.1353/hpu.2012.0047.


Objectives: To describe the prevalence, distribution and risk factors for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection among homeless adults using eight Health Care for the Homeless (HCH) clinics nationally.

Methods: Data were collected for 387 participants through blood draws, structured interviews, chart reviews.

Results: Overall prevalence of HCV-antibody positivity was 31.0%, including 70.0% among injection drug users and 15.5% among reported non-injectors. Much HCV infection was hidden as the majority (53.3%) of HCV-antibody positive participants was unaware of their status. Independent risk factors for HCV among the total sample included injection drug use, prison, and tattoos; among injectors, risk factors included prison and three or more years of injection drug use; among reported non-injectors, risk factors included tattoos and prison.

Conclusion: These HCH clinics serve high concentrations of HCV-infected injectors, making these and similar clinics priority intervention sites for aggressive screening, education, testing, and treatment for HCV and other blood-borne diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Community Health Centers*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Hepatitis C / epidemiology*
  • Hepatitis C / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Ill-Housed Persons*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Risk Factors
  • San Francisco / epidemiology
  • Young Adult