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Int J Prison Health. 2008;4(3):156-63. doi: 10.1080/17449200802264712.

Prisons and HCV: a review and a report on an experience in New South Wales Australia.

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Drug and Alcohol Clinical Services, Hunter New England Area Health Service, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia.


Prison populations in Western countries are characterised by a high hepatitis C prevalence. This reflects a high rate of imprisonment for drug related offences. Prison entrants who are HCV-negative face a significant risk of acquiring hepatitis C. Effective prevention strategies and successful treatment of a significant percentage of hepatitis C-positive inmates could reduce the risk of transmission in the prison context significantly. Several reports of treating hepatitis C in prisoners in major facilities have been published. We report our experience of establishing a liver clinic service in two regional prisons in New South Wales, Australia. Liver biopsy requirements to access treatment in Australia meant that only 46 of 196 reviewed patients were able to commence treatment in our 5-year experience. Treatment completion rate was 61% and end of treatment viral response was 57%. The removal of liver biopsy requirements in Australia in April 2006 has freed up access to treatment and our results encourage further effort to optimise the process of assessment and treatment in this high-risk population.

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