Background: The 69th World Health Assembly approved the Global Health Sector Strategy to eliminate hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection by 2030, which can become a reality with the recent launch of direct acting antiviral therapies. Reliable disease burden estimates are required for national strategies. This analysis estimates the global prevalence of viraemic HCV at the end of 2015, an update of-and expansion on-the 2014 analysis, which reported 80 million (95% CI 64-103) viraemic infections in 2013.
Methods: We developed country-level disease burden models following a systematic review of HCV prevalence (number of studies, n=6754) and genotype (n=11 342) studies published after 2013. A Delphi process was used to gain country expert consensus and validate inputs. Published estimates alone were used for countries where expert panel meetings could not be scheduled. Global prevalence was estimated using regional averages for countries without data.
Findings: Models were built for 100 countries, 59 of which were approved by country experts, with the remaining 41 estimated using published data alone. The remaining countries had insufficient data to create a model. The global prevalence of viraemic HCV is estimated to be 1·0% (95% uncertainty interval 0·8-1·1) in 2015, corresponding to 71·1 million (62·5-79·4) viraemic infections. Genotypes 1 and 3 were the most common cause of infections (44% and 25%, respectively).
Interpretation: The global estimate of viraemic infections is lower than previous estimates, largely due to more recent (lower) prevalence estimates in Africa. Additionally, increased mortality due to liver-related causes and an ageing population may have contributed to a reduction in infections.
Funding: John C Martin Foundation.
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