Hepatitis C prevention, control efforts should focus on incarcerated individuals

TORONTO, Dec. 17, 2015 - More than one in nine people with hepatitis C in Canada spend time in a correctional facility each year and researchers said this presents a unique opportunity to focus hepatitis C prevention and control efforts in incarcerated populations.

People who have spent time in correctional facilities have higher risk factors for hepatitis C, including injection drug use and needle sharing, both in custody and in the community, according to the paper published online today in the Canadian Journal of Public Health.

"Incarcerated individuals are more likely to be infected with hepatitis C and more likely to continue the transmission cycle because of their involvement in risky behaviours such as sharing needles," said Dr. Fiona Kouyoumdjian, a post-doctoral fellow with the Centre for Research on Inner City Health of St. Michael's Hospital. "Time in custody is a unique opportunity for health-care workers to offer prevention activities to people who may otherwise be difficult to reach."

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