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Am J Epidemiol. 1991 Nov 15;134(10):1206-11.

Antibody to hepatitis C virus among cardiac surgery patients, homosexual men, and intravenous drug users in Baltimore, Maryland.

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Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore, MD.


In order to define the risk factors for infection with hepatitis C virus, the authors determined the prevalence and incidence of antibodies to hepatitis C in three cohorts in Baltimore, Maryland, enrolled in prospective studies of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) infection. Among 500 multi-transfused patients who underwent cardiac surgery in 1985 and 1986, 12 (2.4%) were hepatitis C seropositive before surgery while 19 (3.9%) developed antibodies in the 8-12 months after surgery. The seroprevalence of hepatitis C virus among 225 intravenous drug users followed since 1988 was 85%, which did not vary by HIV-1 status. Longer duration of intravenous drug use was significantly associated with hepatitis C seropositivity. Among 926 homosexual/bisexual men followed since 1984, 15 (1.6%) were hepatitis C seropositive; only intravenous drug use and a history of hepatitis A were marginally associated with hepatitis C in this population. No association was found between hepatitis C virus and HIV-1 or sexual behavior variables in this population. These data suggest that hepatitis C is readily transmitted by blood exposure, but is transmitted inefficiently by sexual means.

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