The prison population is considered at high risk of acquiring infectious diseases due to confined conditions, behavioral factors, injection drug use, unprotected sexual activity, non-professional tattooing and scarification, and needle sharing. Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a blood borne pathogen mostly transmitted via percutaneous exposure that results in inflammation of the liver. It is one of the public health problem worldwide and is the principal cause of parenterally transmitted non-A, non-B hepatitis. The study was aimed at evaluating the prevalence of HCV among prison inmates in Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria and the associated factors.
The study took a descriptive cross sectional approach using multi-stage sampling technique. One hundred and forty-two (142) prison inmates within the age range of 18-50 years and above were recruited for this study.
Forty two (42); [29.6%] of the participating prison inmates were seropositive for HCV. Gender stratification showed that 31.0% of the males were seropositive for HCV while 15.4% of the females were seropositive for HCV. Fisher exact test showed that gender, age, marital status, occupation and level of education had no association in distribution of seroprevalence of HCV (p > 0.05) but the duration in prison was significantly associated with distribution of seropositivity of HCV in the studied population (p 0.05). However, 23.5% who had tattoo/scarification, 29.6% who used injection drug, 33.3% who had history of blood transfusion, 29.8% who had sexual experience, 21.2% who shared shaving equipment, and 28.3% who had multiple sex partners were seropositive for HCV.
Approximately 29.6% prevalence of Hepatitis C virus infection observed among inmates studied is high and calls for concern. Attitude and behaviors by inmates such as tattooing/scarification, injection drugs use, sharing of shaving equipment, multiple sexual partners should be discouraged.