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This study measured the prevalence and the risk factors associated with HCV antibody-positive prisoners.
A total of 630 prisoners completed a questionnaire about risk behaviours associated with HCV transmission and were tested for HCV antibody from a blood test.
Of these 362 (57.5%) prisoners were HCV antibody positive.
A total of 436 (68.8%) prisoners reported ever injecting drugs and 332 reported injecting drugs in prison.
HCV-positive prisoners were more likely to have injected drugs (OR 29.9) and to have injected drugs in prison during their current incarceration (OR 3.0).
Tattooing was an independent risk factor for being HCV positive (OR 2.7).
This is the first study conducted on prisoners that has identified having a tattoo in prison as a risk factor for HCV.
Injecting drugs whilst in prison during this incarceration was also a risk factor for HCV.
Our results show prisoners who injected drugs outside of prison continue to inject in prison but in a less safe manner.