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BMJ. 2001 Nov 24;323(7323):1209-13.

Prevalence of antibodies to hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV and risk factors in entrants to Irish prisons: a national cross sectional survey.

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  • 1Department of Community Health, Trinity College Center, Adelaide and Meath Hospital, Dublin 24, Republic of Ireland.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To determine the prevalence of antibodies to hepatitis B core antigen, hepatitis C virus, and HIV in entrants to Irish prisons and to examine risk factors for infection.

DESIGN:

Cross sectional, anonymous survey, with self completed risk factor questionnaire and oral fluid specimen for antibody testing.

SETTING:

Five of seven committal prisons in the Republic of Ireland.

PARTICIPANTS:

607 of the 718 consecutive prison entrants from 6 April to 1 May 1999.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Prevalence of antibodies to hepatitis B core antigen, hepatitis C virus, and HIV in prison entrants, and self reported risk factor status.

RESULTS:

Prevalence of antibodies to hepatitis B core antigen was 37/596 (6%; 95% confidence interval 4% to 9%), to hepatitis C virus was 130/596 (22%; 19% to 25%), and to HIV was 12/596 (2%; 1% to 4%). A third of the respondents had never previously been in prison; these had the lowest prevalence of antibodies to hepatitis B core antigen (4/197, 2%), to hepatitis C (6/197, 3%), and to HIV (0/197). In total 29% of respondents (173/593) reported ever injecting drugs, but only 7% (14/197) of those entering prison for the first time reported doing so compared with 40% (157/394) of those previously in prison. Use of injected drugs was the most important predictor of antibodies to hepatitis B core antigen and hepatitis C virus.

CONCLUSIONS:

Use of injected drugs and infection with hepatitis C virus are endemic in Irish prisons. A third of prison entrants were committed to prison for the first time. Only a small number of first time entrants were infected with one or more of the viruses. These findings confirm the need for increased infection control and harm reduction measures in Irish prisons.

PMID:
11719410
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC59992
Free PMC Article
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