UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Twin epidemics of new and prevalent hepatitis C infections in Canada: BC Hepatitis Testers Cohort Janjua, Naveed Z; Yu, Amanda; Kuo, Margot; Alvarez, Maria; Cook, Darrel; Wong, Jason; Tyndall, Mark W; Krajden, Mel


Background: We characterized the twin epidemics of new and prevalent hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections in British Columbia, Canada to inform prevention, care and treatment programs. Methods: The BC Hepatitis Testers Cohort (BC-HTC) includes individuals tested for HCV, HIV or reported as a case of HBV, HCV, HIV or active TB between 1990–2013 linked with data on their medical visits, hospitalizations, cancers, prescription drugs and mortality. Prevalent infection was defined as being anti-HCV positive at first test. Those with a negative test followed by a positive test were considered seroconverters or new infections. Results: Of 1,132,855 individuals tested for HCV, 64,634 (5.8 %) were positive and an additional 3092 cases tested positive elsewhere for a total of 67,726. Of 55,781 HCV positive individuals alive at the end of 2013, 7064 were seroconverters while 48,717 had prevalent infection at diagnosis. The HCV positivity rate (11.2 %) was highest in birth cohort 1945–1964 which declined over time. New infections were more likely to be male, 15–34 years of age (born 1965-1984), HIV- or HBV-coinfected, socioeconomically disadvantaged, have problematic drug and alcohol use and a mental health illness. The profile was similar for individuals with prevalent infection, except for lower odds of HBV-coinfection, major mental health diagnoses and birth cohort >1975. Conclusions: The HCV positivity rate is highest in birth cohort 1945–1964 which represents most prevalent infections. New infections occur in younger birth cohorts who are commonly coinfected with HIV and/or HBV, socioeconomically marginalized, and living with mental illness and addictions.

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