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Association of Hepatitis C Virus With Alcohol Use Among U.S. Adults: NHANES 2003–2010

      Introduction

      Excessive alcohol use exacerbates morbidity and mortality among hepatitis C virus (HCV)–infected people. The purpose of this study was to describe self-reported patterns of alcohol use and examine the association with HCV infection and other sociodemographic and health-related factors.

      Methods

      Data from 20,042 participants in the 2003–2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey were analyzed in 2014. Estimates were derived for self-reported demographic characteristics, HCV-RNA (indicative of current HCV infection) status, and alcohol use at four levels: lifetime abstainers, former drinkers, non-excessive current drinkers, and excessive current drinkers.

      Results

      Former drinkers and excessive current drinkers had a higher prevalence of HCV infection (2.2% and 1.5%, respectively) than never or non-excessive current drinkers (0.4% and 0.9%, respectively). HCV-infected adults were estimated to ever drink five or more drinks/day almost every day at some time during their lifetime about 3.3 times more often (43.8% vs 13.7%, p<0.001) than those who were never infected with HCV. Controlling for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, and having a usual source of health care, HCV infection was significantly associated with excessive current drinking (adjusted prevalence ratio, 1.3; 95% CI=1.1, 1.6) and former drinking (adjusted prevalence ratio, 1.3; 95% CI=1.1, 1.6).

      Conclusions

      Chronic HCV infection is associated with both former and excessive current drinking. Public health HCV strategies should implement interventions with emphasis on alcohol abuse, which negatively impacts disease progression for HCV-infected individuals.
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