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J Clin Microbiol. Dec 1997; 35(12): 3274–3277.
PMCID: PMC230161

Incidence and risk factors for hepatitis C among injection drug users in Baltimore, Maryland.


Between 1988 and 1996, the incidence of and risk factors for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection were studied in a cohort of injection drug users in Baltimore, Maryland. By second-generation antibody testing of stored serum samples, 142 participants were found to be susceptible to HCV at the time they entered the study. After a median follow-up of 6.5 years, 43 participants (30.3%) developed antibodies to HCV (anti-HCV). The overall incidence was 6.4 cases per 100 person-years, but a substantial decline in the annual incidence rate was observed after the first 2 years (1988 to 1990, 13.4/100 person-years; 1991 to 1996, 2.3/100 person-years [P = 0.0001 for trend]). Participants who acknowledged active drug use, especially those who acknowledged frequent use and sharing of drug paraphernalia, were at increased risk of HCV infection. However, high-risk sexual practices were not associated with HCV seroconversion. Efforts to reduce HCV infection must be focused on curbing drug use and especially on the sharing of needles and drug paraphernalia.

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Selected References

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