Epidemiology of hepatitis C virus in the Arabian Gulf countries: Systematic review and meta-analysis of prevalence

Yousra A. Mohamoud, Suzanne Riome, Laith Aburaddad

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

25 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: The aims of this study were to perform a systematic review and synthesize epidemiological data on hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the Arabian Gulf countries, and to assess the country-specific prevalence among nationals and expatriate populations. Methods: A systematic review of HCV antibody prevalence and incidence in the Arabian Gulf countries was conducted, based on the items outlined in the PRISMA statement. Meta-analyses were performed 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. Results: A total of 557 prevalence measures and one incidence measure were identified for the Arabian Gulf countries. HCV prevalence among nationals was 0.24% (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.02-0.63) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), 0.44% (95% CI 0.29-0.62) in Kuwait, 0.51% (95% CI 0.43-0.59) in Qatar, and 1.65% (95% CI 1.40-1.91) in Saudi Arabia. No data were available for Bahrain or Oman. Among the entire resident populations, HCV prevalence was 0.30% (95% CI 0.23-0.38) in Bahrain, 0.41% (95% CI 0.35-0.46) in Oman, 1.06% (95% CI 0.51-1.81) in Qatar, 1.45% (95% CI 0.75-2.34) in Kuwait, 1.63% (95% CI 1.42-1.84) in Saudi Arabia, and 1.64% (95% CI 0.96-2.49) in UAE. A higher prevalence was observed among expatriate populations such as Egyptians. Among the high-risk populations, HCV prevalence was as high as 78.6% in the multi-transfused and 74.6% in people who inject drugs. Conclusions: National-level HCV prevalence in the Arabian Gulf region is comparable to global levels. A 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 these are often linked to medical care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-125
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Infectious Diseases
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016
Externally publishedYes



  • Arabian Gulf
  • Epidemiology
  • Hepatitis C virus
  • Meta-analysis
  • Prevalence
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

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