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Racial differences in hepatitis B and hepatitis C and associated risk behaviors in veterans with severe mental illness.

Butterfield MI, Bosworth HB, Stechuchak KM, Frothingham R, Bastian LA, Meador KG, Swartz M, Horner RD. Racial differences in hepatitis B and hepatitis C and associated risk behaviors in veterans with severe mental illness. Journal of the National Medical Association. 2004 Jan 1; 96(1):43-52.

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Racial differences in the seroprevalence of and risks for hepatitis B (HBV) and hepatitis C (HCV) were examined in military veterans with severe mental illnesses (SMI). Participants (376; 155 Caucasian, 221 African American) were inpatients at a Veterans Affairs (VA) psychiatric unit in Durham, N.C., from 1998 to 2000. Prevalence rates of HBV and HCV were 21.3% and 18.9%, respectively. African Americans had a higher HBV seroprevalence than did Caucasians: 27.6% versus 12.3%; odds ratio (OR) 2.73; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.55, 4.79. Although not statistically significant, HCV seroprevalence was also higher for African Americans than it was for Caucasians: 21.3% versus 15.5%; OR = 1.47; 95% CI = 0.86, 2.53. No racial difference was observed for injection drug use (IDU), the strongest risk indicator for both HBV and HCV. Multivariable analyses indicated that African-American race, IDU, and multiple sex partners in the past six months were related to an increased risk of HBV, whereas IDU and smoking crack cocaine were both independently related to an increased risk of HCV. Thus, veterans with SMI--particularly African-American veterans--have high rates of HBV and HCV infection. African-American veterans have significantly higher rates of HBV than do Caucasian veterans, which persist after controlling for prominent risk behaviors.

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