Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

More than 27 percent of L.A homeless adults have hepatitis C, and nearly half don't know it

12.06.2012
Recent government studies show that hepatitis C, which can destroy the liver and necessitate a liver transplant, now kills more American adults than AIDS, and new UCLA research shows just how prevalent the disease is among homeless adults in downtown Los Angeles.

In a study published in the July–August issue of Public Health Reports, researchers found that 26.7 percent of homeless adults tested and surveyed in downtown Los Angeles' skid row were infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) — more than 10 times the 2 percent rate among the general U.S. population. Of those surveyed, 46.1 percent were unaware that they were infected. Four percent of the sample were HIV-positive.

Few of the infected homeless adults surveyed had ever received any treatment for their HCV, said Dr. Lillian Gelberg, professor of family medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, who led the study with Dr. Marjorie Robertson of the Public Health Institute's Alcohol Research Group. Less than 3 percent of those who knew they were infected had ever been treated.

"Their hepatitis C can result in high costs to the public and the healthcare system if progression of their disease is not halted through treatment," said Gelberg, who is also a professor of public health at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. "The costs of their untreated hepatitis C may start escalating soon, as many are approaching 20 years of infection, which is the point at which we see escalating risk for liver cirrhosis and end-stage liver disease, requiring expensive health services utilization and liver transplantation."

The study surveyed 534 homeless adults from 41 shelters and meal programs in the skid row area between June 2003 and February 2004. Most were males and the majority were African Americans. Each was tested for hepatitis B and C and for HIV. Overall, the researchers found that HCV prevalence was significantly higher among those homeless individuals who had injected drugs or been in prison; who were 40 years of age and older; who had less education; or who were U.S.-born.

Among the other key findings:
20.4 percent of those surveyed had injected illicit drugs; of those, 77.6 percent tested positive for HCV. Among those who had injected drugs, HCV infection was associated with older age and a prison history.
Among those who never used injection drugs, 13.6 percent had HCV. Infection rates were significantly higher among non-injectors if they were older, had less education, used serious non-injection drugs (excluding marijuana), had three or more tattoos, or had been in prison.

Overall, after controlling for other factors, sexual behaviors were not significantly related to HCV infection.

There are some limitations to this study. For instance, though HCV infection rates were based on blood tests, many of the other measures used were based on self-reporting, which is subject to recall bias and other errors. In addition, the findings may not be applicable beyond the population and geographic area the researchers studied, though the researchers noted that their sample's demographics were similar to those of other urban homeless populations that have been studied, and rates of IV drug use and HCV among injectors were similar to those of a general homeless sample.

"This and previous studies demonstrate that urban homeless adults in the U.S. are at high risk for HCV infection," the researchers concluded. "About half of those infected with HCV were unaware of their infection status. Homeless adults need interventions that include HCV education, counseling, voluntary testing and treatment services. HCV prevention and treatment programs could be modeled after relevant successful interventions developed for U.S. homeless persons with HIV/AIDS."

Other researchers included Lisa Arangua, Ardis Moe, Ronald M. Andersen, Barbara D. Leake, Gerald Sumner and Adeline Nyamathi, all of UCLA, and Hal Morgenstern of the University of Michigan.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health (RO1-DA14294) and the Centers for Disease Control funded this study. Gelberg received additional support as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Generalist Physician Faculty Scholar and as UCLA's George F. Kneller Chair in Family Medicine. Robertson received additional support from the National Alcohol Research Center (P60-AA05595) at the Alcohol Research Group of the Public Health Institute. Andersen received additional support from the UCLA/DREW Project EXPORT (funded by the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, P20MD000148/P20MD000182).

The UCLA Department of Family Medicine provides comprehensive primary care to entire families, from newborns to seniors. It provides low-risk obstetrical services and prenatal and in-patient care at UCLA Medical Center–Santa Monica and out-patient care at the University Family Health Center in Santa Monica and the Mid-Valley Family Health Center (located in a Los Angeles County Health Center in Van Nuys, Calif.). The department is also a leader in family medicine education for both medical students and residents and houses a significant research unit focusing on health care disparities among immigrant families, minority communities and other underserved populations in Los Angeles and California.

The UCLA Fielding School of Public Health is dedicated to enhancing the public's health by conducting innovative research, training future leaders and health professionals, translating research into policy and practice, and serving local, national and international communities.

For more news, visit the UCLA Newsroom and follow us on Twitter.

Enrique Rivero | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mednet.ucla.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Innovative genetic tests for children with developmental disorders and epilepsy
11.07.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Oxygen loss in the coastal Baltic Sea is “unprecedentedly severe”
05.07.2018 | European Geosciences Union

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>