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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 9, Issue 3, Pages 137-140

Risk Factors for Hepatitis C Virus Infection in Canadian Patients with Chronic Type C Hepatitis

GY Minuk, WWS Wong, KDE Kaita, and BG Rosser

Liver Diseases Unit, Departments of Medicine and Pharmacology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Received 19 November 1993; Accepted 18 November 1994

Copyright © 1995 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Previous reports from the United States indicate that as many as 40% of patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) have no identifiable risk factor for HCV infection. To determine whether the same is true of Canadian patients with chronic HCV the records of 89 anti-HCV positive patients referred to the authors' tertiary care centre for evaluation of liver disease were reviewed. Each patient had been specifically asked about the following risk factors: previous blood transfusions; intravenous drug abuse; homosexual activity; sexual promiscuity (multiple sexual partners or a history of sexually transmitted diseases); tattoos made with nonsterile techniques; and ear piercing using nonsterile techniques. The results of the study revealed that 76 of 89 patients (85%) had at least one risk factor for HCV exposure, 38 (43%) had only one risk factor, 19 (21%) had two, 12 (14%) had three and the remaining three patients (3%) had four. The most common risk factor was a history of intravenous drug abuse (30 of 89 patients, 34%) followed by sexual promiscuity (28, 32%), previous blood transfusions (21, 24%), tattoos (17, 19%), homosexual contacts (seven, 8%) and ear piercing (five, 6%). Contrary to a recent report identifying sexual contact as an independent risk factor for HCV infection, only four cases (5%) were found where sexual promiscuity was identified as the only risk factor. In conclusion, these findings indicate that a possible source of HCV infection can be identified in a large majority of Canadians referred to an urban centre with chronic HCV infection.