Friday, March 25, 2016

Epidemiology of Hepatitis C Virus in the Arabian Gulf Countries: Systematic Review & Meta-Analysis of Prevalence

  • HCV prevalence is at around 1% in the Arabian Gulf region.
  • Higher prevalence in expatriate populations reflects prevalence in origin countries.
  • Evidence of ongoing HCV transmission through exposures linked to medical settings.
  • Injecting drug use does not appear to be the dominant contributor to HCV incidence.
To systematically review and synthesize epidemiological data on hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the Arabian Gulf countries, and assess the country-specific prevalence among nationals and expatriate populations.

We conducted a systematic review of HCV antibody prevalence and incidence in the Arabian Gulf countries based on the items outlined in the PRISMA statement. Meta-analyses were conducted incorporating inverse variance weighting and using a random-effects model to pool summary estimates of HCV prevalence among general population groups, for nationals and the entire resident population.

We identified 557 prevalence measures and one incidence measure in the Arabian Gulf countries. 
HCV prevalence among nationals was 0.24% in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), 0.44% in Kuwait, 0.51% in Qatar, and 1.65% in Saudi Arabia. No data was available for Bahrain and Oman. Among the entire resident populations, HCV prevalence was 0.30% in Bahrain, 0.41% in Oman, 1.06% in Qatar, 1.45% in Kuwait, 1.63% in Saudi Arabia, and 1.64% in UAE. Higher prevalence was observed among expatriate populations such as Egyptians. Among high risk populations, HCV prevalence was as high as 78.6% in the multi-transfused and 74.6% in people who inject drugs.

National-level HCV prevalence in the Arabian Gulf region is comparable to global levels. Higher prevalence is found in specific expatriate populations reflecting the prevalence in their countries of origin. Most exposures appear to occur in high risk groups and are often linked to medical care.

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  • 1Infectious Disease Epidemiology Group, Weill Cornell Medical College - Qatar, Cornell University, Qatar Foundation - Education City, Doha, Qatar.
  • 2Infectious Disease Epidemiology Group, Weill Cornell Medical College - Qatar, Cornell University, Qatar Foundation - Education City, Doha, Qatar; Department of Healthcare Policy and Research, Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell University, New York, New York, USA; College of Public Health, Hamad bin Khalifa University, Qatar Foundation, Education City, Doha, Qatar. Electronic address:
  •  2016 Mar 17. pii: S1201-9712(16)30999-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ijid.2016.03.012.

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