Prevalence of hepatitis C and coinfection with HIV among United States veterans in the New York City metropolitan area.Am J Gastroenterol 2002; 97(8):2071-8AJ
The aims of this study were to determine the prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and its risk factors, as well as the prevalence of coinfection with HIV and its risk factors, among patients with confirmed HCV infection.
In a 1-day cross-sectional HCV survey at six Veterans Affairs Medical Centers in the New York City metropolitan area, all 1943 patients undergoing phlebotomy for any reason were asked to be tested for HCV antibody by enzyme immumoassay (EIA). A total of 1098 patients (57%) agreed to HCV testing, 1016 of whom also completed a questionnaire on demographics and HCV risk factors. All HCV EIA(+) samples were confirmed by HCV RNA and HCV recombinant immunoblot assay (RIBA) antibody testing and were also tested for HCV viral load, HCV genotype, and antibodies to HIV in a blinded fashion.
The prevalence of confirmed HCV infection was 10.6% (95% CI = 8.7-12.4%), and the prevalence of HCV viremia was 8.2% (95% CI = 6.6-9.8%). The rate of HCV viremia among anti-HCV(+) patients was 77.6%, and HCV genotype 1 was present in 87.5% of viremic patients. Independent risk factors for HCV infection were injection drug use (OR = 35.6, 95% CI = 16.9-75.2), blood exposure during combat (OR = 2.6, 95% CI = 1.2-5.7), alcohol abuse (OR = 2.4; 95% CI = 1.2-4.8), and service in the Vietnam era (OR = 2.1; 95% CI = 1.0-4.5). Coinfection with HIV was present in 24.8% of anti-HCV(+) patients. The only independent risk factor for coinfection was age <50 yr (OR = 3.7, 95% CI = 1.1-12.1).
U.S. veterans who are receiving medical care at VA medical centers in the New York City metropolitan area have a much higher rate of chronic hepatitis C than the general population, with a high frequency of genotype 1. Coinfection with HIV is very common in patients with confirmed HCV infection, and these patients should routinely be offered HIV testing.