The objective was to delineate hepatitis C virus (HCV) epidemiology in countries of Central Asia (CA), specifically Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. A systematic review was conducted guided by the Cochrane Collaboration Handbook, and reported using PRISMA guidelines. Meta-analyses were performed using DerSimonian-Laird random-effects models with inverse variance weighting. Random-effects meta-regression analyses were performed on general population studies. The systematic review identified a total of 208 HCV prevalence measures. No incidence or Turkmenistan studies were identified. Meta-analyses estimated HCV prevalence among the general population at 0.7% (95%CI: 0.7–0.8%) in Kazakhstan, 2.0% (95%CI: 1.7–2.4%) in Kyrgyzstan, 2.6% (95%CI: 1.7–3.6%) in Tajikistan, and 9.6 (95%CI: 5.8–14.2%) in Uzbekistan. Across CA, the pooled mean prevalence was 13.5% (95%CI: 10.9–16.4%) among non-specific clinical populations, 31.6% (95%CI: 25.8–37.7%) among populations with liver-related conditions, and 51.3% (95%CI: 46.9–55.6%) among people who inject drugs. Genotypes 1 (52.6%) and 3 (38.0%) were most frequent. Evidence was found for statistically-significant differences in prevalence by country, but not for a temporal decline in prevalence. CA is one of the most affected regions by HCV infection with Uzbekistan enduring one of the highest prevalence levels worldwide. Ongoing HCV transmission seems to be driven by injecting drug use and healthcare exposures.
ASJC Scopus subject areas