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Abstract

We conducted an anonymous cross-sectional seroprevalence study of a population with a low frequency of injection drug use to determine whether persons with a history of cosmetic procedures, such as tattooing and body piercing, or intranasal drug use were at increased risk for hepatitis C virus (HCV) or hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. Students 18 years and older from eight college campuses in Houston, Texas, were invited to participate in the study. Of the 7,960 who completed a self-administered questionnaire and provided a blood sample, 5,282 U.S.- or Canadian-born participants were analyzed. Their median age was 21, 62% were female, 42% were white, 26% black, 22% Hispanic, and 10% Asian or other. Two percent reported injection drug use, 13.7% intranasal drug use, 21.2% body piercings, and 25.2% tattoos. The overall prevalence of HCV infection was 0.9% and of HBV infection was 5.2%. Higher HCV prevalence was independently associated with increasing age (odds ratio [OR] per year = 1.11; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.08-1.14), history of injection drug use (OR = 18.24; 95% CI = 7.74-42.92), blood transfusion before 1991 (OR = 3.21; 95% CI = 1.02-10.12), and incarceration (OR = 3.48; 95% CI = 1.45-8.37). Among 5,066 students who denied injecting drugs, HCV prevalence was 0.8% in those who reported intranasal drug use and 0.6% each in those who reported tattoos and those who reported body piercing. Increased HBV prevalence was associated with high-risk sexual behaviors and black or Asian race. In conclusion, there was no increased risk for HCV or HBV infection in low-risk adults based solely on history of cosmetic procedures or snorting drugs. However, proper infection control practices for cosmetic procedures should be followed, illegal drug use discouraged, and hepatitis B vaccination provided to adolescents and sexually active adults. (HEPATOLOGY 2006;44:341–351.)