The epidemiology of hepatitis C virus in the Maghreb region: systematic review and meta-analyses



Fadlalla FA, Mohamoud YA, Mumtaz GR, Abu-Raddad LJ.


PLoS One. 2015 Mar 24;10(3):e0121873. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0121873. 2015.


OBJECTIVE: To systematically review and synthesize available epidemiological data on hepatitis C virus (HCV) prevalence and incidence in the Maghreb region and to estimate the country-specific population-level HCV prevalence. METHODS: We conducted a systematic review of HCV antibody prevalence and incidence in the Maghreb countries as outlined by the PRISMA guidelines. Meta-analyses were conducted using DerSimonian-Laird random-effect models with inverse variance weighting to pool HCV prevalence estimates among general population groups. RESULTS: We identified 133 HCV prevalence measures and two HCV incidence measures. Among high risk groups, HCV prevalence ranged between 22% and 94% among people who inject drugs, 20% and 76% among dialysis patients, and 2% and 51% among hemophiliacs. Among intermediate-risk groups, considerable but widely variable HCV prevalence was found. Most common risk factors cited across studies were the duration of dialysis, number of transfusions, and having a history of surgery or dental work. The national HCV prevalence in Algeria was estimated at 0.3% (95%CI: 0.1-0.5), Libya 1.2% (95%CI: 1.1-1.3), Mauritania 1.1% (95%CI: 0-2.3), Morocco 0.8% (95%CI: 0.5-1.2), and Tunisia 0.6% (95%CI: 0.5-0.8). CONCLUSIONS: HCV prevalence in the Maghreb region of the Middle East and North Africa is comparable to that in developed countries of about 1%. HCV exposures appear often to be linked to medical care and are suggestive of ongoing transmission in such settings. Injecting drug use appears also to be a major, though not dominant, contributor to HCV transmission. Further research is needed to draw a more thorough understanding of HCV epidemiology, especially in the countries with limited number of studies. HCV prevention policy and programming in these countries should focus on the settings of exposure.

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Link/DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0121873