Unstable housing and hepatitis C incidence among injection drug users in a Canadian setting

Kim, Christina; Kerr, Thomas; Li, Kathy; Zhang, Ruth; Tyndall, Mark W.; Montaner, Julio S. G.; Wood, Evan
January 2009
BMC Public Health;2009, Vol. 9, p270
Academic Journal
Background: There has emerged growing recognition of the link between housing and health. Since Vancouver, Canada has had increasing concerns with homelessness brought about by urban renewal in the lead-up to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, we evaluated hepatitis C virus (HCV) incidence among injection drug users (IDU) with and without stable housing. Methods: Data were derived from a collaboration between two prospective cohort studies of IDU in Vancouver, Canada. Using Cox Proportional Hazards regression, we compared HCV incidence among participants with and without stable housing, and determined independent predictors of HCV incidence. Results: Overall, 3074 individuals were recruited between May 1996 and July 2007, among whom 2541 (82.7%) were baseline HCV-infected. Among the 533 (17.3%) individuals who were not HCV-infected at baseline, 147 tested HCV antibody-positive during follow-up, for an incidence density of 16.89 (95% confidence interval: 14.76 - 19.32) per 100 person-years. In a multivariate Cox regression model, unstable housing remained independently associated with HCV infection (relative hazard = 1.47 (1.02 - 2.13). Conclusion: HCV prevalence and incidence are high in this setting and were associated with unstable housing. Efforts to protect existing low-income housing and improve access to housing may help to reduce HCV incidence.


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