The prevalence of hepatitis C in England and Wales

M. A. Balogun*, M. E. Ramsay, L. M. Hesketh, N. Andrews, K. P. Osborne, N. J. Gay, P. Morgan-Capner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: To estimate the background population prevalence of hepatitis C in England and Wales, observe the prevalence over time and assess the extent of infection outside of known risk groups. Methods: Sera from residual specimens from adult patients submitted to laboratories in England and Wales were tested for anti-HCV. Testing was carried out using a cost-effective pooling strategy. Results: Although the prevalence of anti-HCV was highest in 1986 (1.07%), in the multivariable analysis, prevalence did not vary significantly between the 3 periods 1986, 1991 and 1996 (P = 0.14). The prevalence of infection was higher in males than in females (P = 0.0013). An age-period-cohort analysis revealed a cohort effect due to a lower HCV prevalence in the most recent birth cohorts, that is, those born between the calendar years 1971-1975 and 1976-1980. Conclusions: The majority of HCV infections in England and Wales were probably acquired before 1986. Infections in younger males identified in 1996 may signify more recent acquisition by injecting drug use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-226
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Infection
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank all the Public Health Laboratories that have contributed to this study and collaborate with the Public Health Laboratory Service Seroepidemiology Unit. We would also like to thank Dr John V. Parry and Ms Linda Donovan for carrying out confirmatory testing of specimens and Dr Chong-Gee Teo and Mr Steve Harbour for advice on and carrying out serotyping of specimens. This study was funded by the Department of Health. Funding for the HCV serotyping was provided by the Public Health Laboratory Service Small Scientific Initiative Fund.


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