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J Infect. 2002 Nov;45(4):219-26.

The prevalence of hepatitis C in England and Wales.

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  • 1Immunisation Division, PHLS Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, 61 Colindale Avenue, London, NW9 5EQ, UK.



To estimate the background population prevalence of hepatitis C in England and Wales, observe the prevalence over time and assess the extent of infection outside of known risk groups.


Sera from residual specimens from adult patients submitted to laboratories in England and Wales were tested for anti-HCV. Testing was carried out using a cost-effective pooling strategy.


Although the prevalence of anti-HCV was highest in 1986 (1.07%), in the multivariable analysis, prevalence did not vary significantly between the 3 periods 1986, 1991 and 1996 (P=0.14). The prevalence of infection was higher in males than in females (P=0.0013). An age-period-cohort analysis revealed a cohort effect due to a lower HCV prevalence in the most recent birth cohorts, that is, those born between the calendar years 1971-1975 and 1976-1980.


The majority of HCV infections in England and Wales were probably acquired before 1986. Infections in younger males identified in 1996 may signify more recent acquisition by injecting drug use.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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