Hepatitis C virus viremic rate in the Middle East and North Africa: Systematic synthesis, meta-analyses, and meta-regressions

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Objectives: To estimate hepatitis C virus (HCV) viremic rate, defined as the proportion of HCV chronically infected individuals out of all ever infected individuals, in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Methods: Sources of data were systematically-gathered and standardized databases of the MENA HCV Epidemiology Synthesis Project. Meta-analyses were conducted using DerSimonian-Laird random-effects models to determine pooled HCV viremic rate by risk population or subpopulation, country/subregion, sex, and study sampling method. Random-effects meta-regressions were conducted to identify predictors of higher viremic rate. Results: Analyses were conducted on 178 measures for HCV viremic rate among 19,593 HCV antibody positive individuals. In the MENA region, the overall pooled mean viremic rate was 67.6% (95% CI: 64.9–70.3%). Across risk populations, the pooled mean rate ranged between 57.4% (95% CI: 49.4–65.2%) in people who inject drugs, and 75.5% (95% CI: 61.0–87.6%) in populations with liver-related conditions. Across countries/subregions, the pooled mean rate ranged between 62.1% (95% CI: 50.0–72.7%) and 70.4% (95% CI: 65.5–75.1%). Similar pooled estimates were further observed by risk subpopulation, sex, and sampling method. None of the hypothesized population-level predictors of higher viremic rate were statistically significant. Conclusions: Two-thirds of HCV antibody positive individuals in MENA are chronically infected. Though there is extensive variation in study-specific measures of HCV viremic rate, pooled mean estimates are similar regardless of risk population or subpopulation, country/subregion, HCV antibody prevalence in the background population, or sex. HCV viremic rate is a useful indicator to track the progress in (and coverage of) HCV treatment programs towards the set target of HCV elimination by 2030.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0187177
JournalPLoS One
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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