An estimated 1% to 1.9% of North Americans are infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Although Indigenous peoples are considered to bear the highest burden, there are only limited data regarding the demographic features and epidemiology of hepatitis C in this population.
To document the demographic characteristics, rates of newly diagnosed hepatitis C cases and prevalence of HCV infection in a Canadian First Nations population, and to compare the findings with an infected non-First Nations population.
A research database spanning 1991 to 2002 was developed, linking records from multiple clinical and administrative sources. Over a 12-year period, 671 First Nations and 4347 non-First Nations HCV-positive Canadians were identified in the province of Manitoba. Demographics, residence and time trends were compared between infected First Nations and non-First Nations persons.
HCV-infected First Nations individuals were younger (mean [± SD] age 33.0±0.4 years versus 39.7±0.2 years; P
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