Global epidemiology of hepatitis C virus infection: An up-date of the distribution and circulation of hepatitis C virus genotypes

World J Gastroenterol. 2016 Sep 14;22(34):7824-40. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v22.i34.7824.


Aim: To review Hepatitis C virus (HCV) prevalence and genotypes distribution worldwide.

Methods: We conducted a systematic study which represents one of the most comprehensive effort to quantify global HCV epidemiology, using the best available published data between 2000 and 2015 from 138 countries (about 90% of the global population), grouped in 20 geographical areas (with the exclusion of Oceania), as defined by the Global Burden of Diseases project (GBD). Countries for which we were unable to obtain HCV genotype prevalence data were excluded from calculations of regional proportions, although their populations were included in the total population size of each region when generating regional genotype prevalence estimates.

Results: Total global HCV prevalence is estimated at 2.5% (177.5 million of HCV infected adults), ranging from 2.9% in Africa and 1.3% in Americas, with a global viraemic rate of 67% (118.9 million of HCV RNA positive cases), varying from 64.4% in Asia to 74.8% in Australasia. HCV genotype 1 is the most prevalent worldwide (49.1%), followed by genotype 3 (17.9%), 4 (16.8%) and 2 (11.0%). Genotypes 5 and 6 are responsible for the remaining < 5%. While genotypes 1 and 3 are common worldwide, the largest proportion of genotypes 4 and 5 is in lower-income countries. Although HCV genotypes 1 and 3 infections are the most prevalent globally (67.0% if considered together), other genotypes are found more commonly in lower-income countries where still account for a significant proportion of HCV cases.

Conclusion: A more precise knowledge of HCV genotype distribution will be helpful to best inform national healthcare models to improve access to new treatments.

Keywords: Epidemiology; Hepatitis C virus; Hepatitis C virus genotype; Hepatitis C virus infections; Hepatitis C virus prevalence; Viraemia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Africa / epidemiology
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Asia / epidemiology
  • Australasia / epidemiology
  • Genotype*
  • Global Health
  • Hepacivirus / genetics*
  • Hepatitis C / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • North America / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • South America / epidemiology


  • Antiviral Agents