A complex increase in hepatitis C virus in a correctional facility: bumps in the road

Merone, Lea, Ashton, Sian, Harris, Andy, Edwards, Wanjibung Shaun, Preston-Thomas, Annie, Gair, Richard, and Russell, Darren B. (2022) A complex increase in hepatitis C virus in a correctional facility: bumps in the road. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 46 (3). pp. 377-381.

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Objective: The prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) in correctional facilities in Australia among people who inject drugs is 60%, with disproportionate effects observed in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Following the micro-elimination of HCV in a Queensland correctional facility (QCF), newly acquired cases began to increase in mid-2019. Here we discuss the public health response to increasing HCV in a QCF.

Methods: Enhanced surveillance was performed to obtain contextual outbreak data on risk factors including injecting drug use, sharing of personal hygiene equipment and do-it-yourself-tattooing.

Results: In the sixteen months, there were 250 notifications of new and re-infected HCV infections in prisoners in the QCF. Qualitative data revealed the leading factor in transmission to be injecting drug use.

Conclusions: Drivers for increased HCV transmission in correctional facilities include boredom, waiting lists for opioid substitution programs, changes in injecting behaviours and sharing of injecting paraphernalia. Point-of-care testing combined with education and the development of a needle and syringe program may be promising ways forward for managing HCV in correctional facilities.

Implications for public health: Correctional facilities are key locations to target sexually transmitted infection (STI) and blood-borne virus (BBV) testing and treatment as well as health promotion to improve the health of inmates and the communities they return to.

Item ID: 73784
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1753-6405
Keywords: hepatitis C, prison, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, injecting drugs
Copyright Information: © 2022 The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.
Date Deposited: 11 May 2022 08:56
FoR Codes: 45 INDIGENOUS STUDIES > 4504 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing > 450406 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander epidemiology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 21 INDIGENOUS > 2103 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health > 210302 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status and outcomes @ 100%
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