Risk factors for hepatitis C virus transmission in the municipality of Catanduva, State of São Paulo: a case-control study
Introduction Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is primarily transmitted via contact with the blood of infected patients, although the form of contact has not been identified for a significant percentage of carriers. The present study evaluated possible risk factors for HCV transmission in a medium-sized town located in the northwest region of the State of São Paulo. Methods This was a case-control study, with the case group consisting of 190 chronic HCV carriers older than 18 years residing in the municipality of Catanduva. The control group also consisted of 190 individuals with HCV-negative serology. The groups were paired (1:1) for gender, age range (± five years), and place of residence. The same structured questionnaire was applied to all subjects, who gave written informed consent to participate in the study. The data were statistically analyzed using crude and adjusted logistic regression, and the results were expressed as odds ratios with a 95% confidence interval. Results The demographic profiles of the groups indicated a predominance of males (68.9%) and mean ages of 47.1 years (case group) and 47.3 years (control group). After adjusting for conditional regression, the following factors were found to represent risks for HCV: history of sexually transmitted disease (STD) and blood transfusion; accidents with syringes and/or needles; tattoos; and the use of non-injectable drugs and injectable medications. Conclusions The transmission of HCV via the blood route has been well characterized. Other forms of contact with human blood and/or secretions are likely to transmit the virus, although with a lower frequency of occurrence.