• hepatitis C;
  • prevalence;
  • screening

Summary.  Approximately 3.2 million persons are chronically infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the U.S.; most are not aware of their infection. Our objectives were to examine HCV testing practices to determine which patient characteristics are associated with HCV testing and positivity, and to estimate the prevalence of HCV infection in a high-risk urban population. The study subjects were all patients included in the baseline phase of the Hepatitis C Assessment and Testing Project (HepCAT), a serial cross-sectional study of HCV screening strategies. We examined all patients with a clinic visit to Montefiore Medical Center from 1/1/08 to 2/29/08. Demographic information, laboratory data and ICD-9 diagnostic codes from 3/1/97–2/29/08 were extracted from the electronic medical record. Risk factors for HCV were defined based on birth date, ICD-9 codes and laboratory data. The prevalence of HCV infection was estimated assuming that untested subjects would test positive at the same rate as tested subjects, based on risk-factors. Of 9579 subjects examined, 3803 (39.7%) had been tested for HCV and 438 (11.5%) were positive. The overall prevalence of HCV infection was estimated to be 7.7%. Risk factors associated with being tested and anti-HCV positivity included: born in the high-prevalence birth-cohort (1945–64), substance abuse, HIV infection, alcohol abuse, diagnosis of cirrhosis, end-stage renal disease, and alanine transaminase elevation. In a high-risk urban population, a significant proportion of patients were tested for HCV and the prevalence of HCV infection was high. Physicians appear to use a risk-based screening strategy to identify HCV infection.