Estimating the number of injecting drug users in scotland's HCV-diagnosed population using capture-recapture methods

Scott A. McDonald, Christian Schnier, Sharon Hutchinson, Allan McLeod, David Goldberg

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In countries maintaining national hepatitis C virus (HCV) surveillance systems, a substantial proportion of individuals report no risk factors for infection. Our goal was to estimate the proportion of diagnosed HCV antibody-positive persons in Scotland (1991-2010) who probably acquired infection through injecting drug use (IDU), by combining data on IDU risk from four linked data sources using log-linear capture-recapture methods. Of 25,521 HCV-diagnosed individuals, 14,836 (58%) reported IDU risk with their HCV diagnosis. Log-linear modelling estimated a further 2484 HCV-diagnosed individuals with IDU risk, giving an estimated prevalence of 83. Stratified analyses indicated variation across birth cohort, with estimated prevalence as low as 49% in persons born before 1960 and greater than 90% for those born since 1960. These findings provide public-health professionals with a more complete profile of Scotland's HCV-infected population in terms of transmission route, which is essential for targeting educational, prevention and treatment interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)200-207
Number of pages8
JournalEpidemiology and Infection
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014



  • hepatitis C
  • HCV
  • drug users
  • virus transmission

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