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J Community Health. 2015 Oct;40(5):940-7. doi: 10.1007/s10900-015-0016-2.

Risk Factors Associated with HCV Among Opioid-Dependent Patients in a Multisite Study.

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UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Programs, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, University of California, Los Angeles, 11075 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 200, Los Angeles, CA, 90025, USA,


We examined risk factors associated with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection among opioid-dependent patients enrolled into medication-assisted therapy (buprenorphine or methadone) to determine factors affecting chronic infection. Patients (N = 1039) were randomized as part of a larger, multisite clinical trial sponsored by the National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network assessing liver function. HCV status was first assessed with an antibody screen; if positive, then current infection was determined with an antigen screen testing for detectable virus. Patients were classified as HCV negative, HCV positive but have cleared the virus, or as having chronic HCV. Logistic regression analysis was used to examine demographic and behavioral correlates of the three groups. Thirty-four percent of patients were classified with chronic infection and 14% had evidence of prior infection with apparent clearing of the virus. Chronic infection was associated with recent injection drug use and cocaine use. Chronic HCV infection was also associated with being older and Hispanic. Age, ethnicity, and current drug use increase the likelihood of being chronically infected with HCV. Strategies targeting high risk subgroups can aid in preventing further disease escalation.

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