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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Using hepatitis C prevalence to estimate HIV epidemic potential among people who inject drugs in the Middle East and North Africa

Ghina R Mumtaz, Helen A Weiss, Peter Vickerman, Natasha Larke, Laith J Abu-Raddad
AIDS 2015 August 24, 29 (13): 1701-10
26372281

OBJECTIVES: The objective of this study is to understand the association between HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) among people who inject drugs (PWIDs) in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and to estimate HIV epidemic potential among PWIDs using HCV prevalence.

DESIGN/METHODS: Using data from a systematic review of HIV and HCV among PWID in MENA, we conducted two analyses, stratified by HIV epidemic state: a meta-analysis of the risk ratio of HCV to HIV prevalence (RRHCV/HIV) using DerSimonian-Laird random-effects models, and multivariable linear regression predicting log HIV prevalence. The HCV-HIV association from both analyses was used to estimate HIV prevalence at endemic equilibrium. We compared predicted with current HIV prevalence to classify HIV epidemic potential at country-level as low, medium or high, using predefined criteria.

RESULTS: The review identified 88 HCV prevalence measures among PWID in MENA, of which 54 had a paired HIV prevalence measure. The pooled RRHCV/HIV were 16, 4 and 3 in low-level, emerging and established HIV epidemics, respectively. There was a significant linear relationship between HCV and HIV at endemic equilibrium (P = 0.002). The predicted endemic HIV prevalence ranged between 8% (Tunisia) and 22% (Pakistan). Of the nine countries with data, five have high and three medium HIV epidemic potential. Only one country, Pakistan, appears to have reached saturation.

CONCLUSION: HCV prevalence could be a predictor of future endemic HIV prevalence. In MENA, we predict that there will be further HIV epidemic growth among PWID. The proposed methodology can identify PWID populations that should be prioritized for HIV prevention interventions.

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