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The Capital Region of Denmark - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital

Incidence, prevalence and risk factors for hepatitis C in Danish prisons

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  • Jacob Søholm
  • Dorte Kinggaard Holm
  • Belinda Mössner
  • Lone Wulff Madsen
  • Janne Fuglsang Hansen
  • Nina Weis
  • Agnes Pernille Sauer
  • Tahany Awad
  • Peer Brehm Christensen
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Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is prevalent among people in prison and prisons could therefore represent a unique opportunity to test risk groups for HCV. The aim of this sero-epidemiological study was to determine the incidence and prevalence of HCV infection and the corresponding risk factors in Danish prisons. Participants, recruited from eight Danish prisons, were tested for HCV using dried blood spots and filled out a questionaire with demographic data and risk factors for HCV infection. In total, 76.9% (801/1041) of all eligible prisoners consented to participate. The prevalence of HCV RNA positive prisoners was 4.2% (34/801) and the in-prison incidence rate was 0.7-1.0 per 100PY overall and 18-24/100PY among PWIDs. Infected prisoners were older than the overall population with a mean age of 42 years and only 17.6% (6/34) were younger than 35 years. The prevalence of PWID was 8.5% (68/801) and only 3% (2/68) of PWID were younger than 25 years. Among the PWID, 85.3% (58/68) had ever received opioid substitution therapy (OST) and 47.1% (32/68) were currently receiving OST. Risk factors associated with HCV infection were intravenous drug use, age ≥ 40 years, and being incarcerated ≥ 10 years. In conclusion, the prevalence of PWID in Danish prisons is low, possibly reflecting a decrease in injecting among the younger generation. This together with OST coverage could explain the low prevalence of HCV infection. However among PWIDs in prison the incidence remains high, suggesting a need for improved HCV prevention in prison.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0220297
JournalPLoS One
Issue number7
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jul 2019

ID: 57713301