Hepatitis C incidence and prevalence among Puerto Rican people who use drugs in New York City

Kamyar Arasteh, Don C. Des Jarlais, Jonathan Feelemyer, Courtney McKnight

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is associated with substantial morbidity and mortality among people who use drugs (PWUD). Health disparities related to race/ethnicity and immigration status also increase the risk of HCV infection and decrease the probability of linkage to care. Effective, curative treatment is now available for HCV infection and, alongside prevention, may eliminate HCV epidemics. Methods: We examined HCV incidence, prevalence and associated risk factors among 5459 Puerto Rican (both PR-born and U.S.-born) and non-Puerto Rican (only U.S.-born) entrants to Mount Sinai Beth Israel drug treatment programs in New York City, from August 2005 to January 2018, to assess the need for HCV screening, prevention and treatment in this population. Results: HCV incidence and prevalence among Puerto Rican PWUD was significantly greater than the non-Puerto Ricans PWUD. Among people who inject drugs (PWID), there was no difference in injection risk behaviours by ethnicity/birth place. Conclusions: Findings suggest HCV treatment is a necessary component of a strategy to eliminate HCV epidemics among PWUD. Findings also underline the interconnectedness of epidemics across regions, such that to eliminate the HCV epidemic in one location may depend on eliminating the HCV epidemics in other locations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1789-1799
Number of pages11
JournalGlobal Public Health
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020


  • HCV
  • Puerto Ricans
  • injection drug use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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