1Laboratorio de Investigacao Medica em Hepatologia por Virus (LIM-47), Hospital das Clinicas HCFMUSP, Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, SP, Brazil.
2Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, SP, Brazil.
3Departamento de Molestias Infecciosas e Parasitarias, Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, SP, Brazil.
Objective: People who inject drugs (PWID) are known to be more susceptible to infections such as hepatitis C virus (HCV). This systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to estimate the prevalence of hepatitis C among PWID in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC).
Method: The MEDLINE, Embase, and LILACS databases were searched without language restriction from inception to 2021. Articles were screened based on titles and abstracts. After reading the full texts, the articles were selected based on eligibility criteria.
Results: Of the 486 identified publications, 123 full texts were assessed, and 23 studies with a mean quality score of 7.2 were included. A total of 11,419 PWID were included in the meta-analysis, and the estimated overall prevalence of hepatitis C among PWID in LAC was 57.0%, which was higher than the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime global prevalence of 50.2%. In meta-analyses of subgroups divided according to the risk of exposure to HCV infection (in addition to the imminent risk of injected drugs), the estimated prevalence of hepatitis C in PWID in the lowerrisk population (general) was 57.0%. The prevalence of hepatitis C in PWID who were infected with HIV was 61.0%. The estimated hepatitis C prevalence was also assessed for three periods: in 1991-2000, it was 59.0%; in 2001-2010, it was 63.0%; and in 2011-2020, it was 48.0%.
Conclusions: The high estimated prevalence of hepatitis C in LAC reinforces the need for increased diagnostic efforts, strategies for treating drug addiction and hepatitis C, and harm reduction policies that target PWID.