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May 23, 1994

Hepatitis C in Intravenous Drug Addicts

Arch Intern Med. 1994;154(10):1163-1164. doi:10.1001/archinte.1994.00420100150021

Recently, Fingerhood and associates1 reported that 86% of intravenous drug users in Baltimore, Md, tested positive for antibodies to hepatitis C (HCV). Approximately one fourth of their subjects demonstrated that concentrations of the liver enzymes, aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase, were elevated greater than two times normal. This obvious evidence of ongoing liver disease coupled with a low prevalence of hepatitis B surface antigen (4%) and human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (9%) caused Fingerhood et al to be greatly concerned about the potential for future health care costs related to HCV. They state, "in a population already using a disproportionate share of health care, HCV poses a real threat as an additional burden on limited health care resources and money." I recently helped conduct a seroprevalence study of hepatitis B and C markers in intravenous heroin addicts in California. The results were similar to those of Fingerhood et al

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