The aim of this study was to characterize hepatitis C virus (HCV) epidemiology in Iran and estimate the pooled mean HCV antibody prevalence in different risk populations. We systematically reviewed and synthesized reports of HCV incidence and/or prevalence, as informed by the Cochrane Collaboration Handbook, and reported our findings following the PRISMA guidelines. DerSimonian-Laird random effects meta-analyses were implemented to estimate HCV prevalence in various risk populations. We identified five HCV incidence and 472 HCV prevalence measures. Our meta-analyses estimated HCV prevalence at 0.3% among the general population, 6.2% among intermediate risk populations, 32.1% among high risk populations, and 4.6% among special clinical populations. Our meta-analyses for subpopulations estimated HCV prevalence at 52.2% among people who inject drugs (PWID), 20.0% among populations at high risk of healthcare-related exposures, and 7.5% among populations with liver-related conditions. Genotype 1 was the most frequent circulating strain at 58.2%, followed by genotype 3 at 39.0%. HCV prevalence in the general population was lower than that found in other Middle East and North Africa countries and globally. However, HCV prevalence was high in PWID and populations at high risk of healthcare-related exposures. Ongoing transmission appears to be driven by drug injection and specific healthcare procedures.
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