The diagnosis of hepatitis C in a semi-rural genitourinary medicine clinic

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Summary:A retrospective casenote study was conducted to examine the risk factors for patients who were diagnosed as hepatitis C (HCV)-positive (between 1999 and 2001) in a semi-rural genitourinary medicine (GUM) setting in Staffordshire, UK. There was a remarkable escalation in the number of reported HCV-positive cases, year on year, in our study. The majority of the positive cases (20/21) gave a history of previous intravenous drug use (IVDU). The incidence of other sexually transmitted infections were reportedly high in our HCV-positive patients. The increasing number of reported HCV-positive cases in the GUM clinic of the semi-rural Staffordshire setting, may reflect a national pattern that needs further investigations. We advise that HCV serology should be offered to GUM clients (who have a history of IVDU), and to their sex partners. They should also be advised to take tests to exclude other STDs. The case for offering HCV serology as a routine test for patients who request 'the exclusion of STDs' is still undecided.

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