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Gastroenterology. 1999 Apr;116(4):893-9.

Risk factors for acquisition of hepatitis C virus infection in blood donors: results of a case-control study.

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Canadian Red Cross Society, McGill University, Montréal, Quebec, Canada.



Few studies have explored risk factors predicting hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in blood donors; their results are contradictory. The aim of this study was to evaluate the association between HCV infection and various risk factors in Canadian volunteer blood donors.


Four transfusion centers were involved in this case-control study. A total of 267 confirmed anti-HCV-positive blood donors were interviewed along with 1068 seronegative blood donors matched for sex, age, donation site, and date. Information was collected using a structured telephone interview. The main outcome measures were odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for various risk factors from univariate and multivariate analyses using conditional logistic regression.


By univariate analysis, 23 variables were associated with anti-HCV positivity. In the final multivariate analysis, only 5 factors remained independently predictive of HCV infection: previous intravenous drug use (OR, 127.5; 95% CI, 26.0-625.0), having lived in a prison or juvenile detention center (56.1; 11.4-275.7), previous blood transfusion (10.5; 4.7-23.2), sexual contact with an intravenous drug user (6.9; 3.1-15.2), and tattooing (5.7; 2.5-13).


Most blood donors acquire infection by percutaneous exposure to contaminated blood. A role for sexual transmission is suggested by this study.

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