Seroprevalence of markers for hepatitis B, C and G in male and female prisoners - NSW, 1996

Tony Butler*, Jenean Spencer, Jisheng Cui, Karen Vickery, Jean Zou, John Kaldor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: 1. Establish the prevalence of markers for hepatitis B (HBV), C (HCV) and G (HGV) in a sample of male and female inmates. 2. Examine exposure to multiple viruses. 3. Compare risk factors for HGV infection with known risk factors for HBV and HCV. Design: Cross-sectional random sample stratified by sex, age and Aboriginality. Inmates were screened for three hepatitis markers. Participants were 789 inmates (657 male, 132 female) in 27 correctional centres in New South Wales, 1996. Results: Overall detection of each of the three screening markers was 35% for HBV, 39% for HCV and 10% for HGV. Exposure rates were higher in female prisoners than males. Increased rates of anti-HBc were observed in Aboriginal inmates compared with non-Aboriginals (54% cf. 27%); anti-HCV and HGV-RNA were comparable between the two groups (36% cf. 41% and 9% cf. 10%). Markers were significantly higher in female injecting drug users (IDU), particularly HCV (90% cf. 66%). Thirty-five per cent of inmates were unaware of their HCV status. For HBV, 72% did not self-report past or present exposure despite serological evidence to the contrary. The multivariate analysis identified Aboriginality, long-term injecting and injecting while in prison as risk factors for HBV. HCV risk factors were female sex, non-Aboriginality, institutionalisation and IDU-associated behaviours. For HGV, female sex and previous imprisonment were significant risk factors but IDU was not. Conclusions: Blood-borne hepatitis viruses are common in prison inmates, particularly females (HBV, HCV and HGV), Aboriginals (HBV) and IDU (HBV and HCV). Infection can be related to a number of risk factors, which appear similar for HBV and HCV, but distinct from HGV.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)377-384
Number of pages8
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1999
Externally publishedYes


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