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Am J Public Health. 2001 January; 91(1): 31–37.
PMCID: PMC1446494

Prevalence of HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C in people with severe mental illness.


OBJECTIVES: This study assessed seroprevalence rates of HIV, hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV) among individuals with severe mental illness. METHODS: Participants (n = 931) were patients undergoing inpatient or outpatient treatment in Connecticut, Maryland, New Hampshire, or North Carolina. RESULTS: The prevalence of HIV infection in this sample (3.1%) was approximately 8 times the estimated US population rate but lower than rates reported in previous studies of people with severe mental illness. Prevalence rates of HBV (23.4%) and HCV (19.6%) were approximately 5 and 11 times the overall estimated population rates for these infections, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Elevated rates of HIV, HBV, and HCV were found. Of particular concern are the high rates of HCV infection, which are frequently undetected. Individuals with HCV infection commonly fail to receive appropriate treatment to limit liver damage and unknowingly may be a source of infection to others.

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