Epidemic hepatitis C virus infection in Egypt: estimates of past incidence and future morbidity and mortality


Elizabeth M. Lehman, International Epidemiology Institute, 1455 Research Boulevard, Suite 550, Rockville, MD 20850, USA. E-mail: elizabeth@iei.ws


Summary.  Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is gaining increasing attention as a global health crisis. Egypt reports the highest prevalence of HCV worldwide, ranging from 6% to more than 40% among regions and demographic groups. Predicting the impact of the epidemic has been difficult because of the long-latency period and low-resource setting. Accordingly, we sought to estimate historic incidence and predict the future impact of HCV using Markov simulation modelling techniques. Age-specific HCV incidence rates (IRs) were estimated using previously acquired age-specific HCV prevalence data. Data for this analysis were from a highly detailed, community-based seroprevalence study from 2003. Future HCV-related morbidity and mortality were estimated using a computer cohort simulation of HCV natural history in the Egyptian population. Population and natural history parameters were defined using results from a meta-analysis and existing comprehensive literature reviews. Incidence model estimates ranged from 2.01 to 25.47 HCV cases per 1000 person-years (PYs). The highest IRs were calculated among those over 35 years of age. Our Markov model predicted 127 821 deaths from chronic liver disease and 117 556 deaths from hepatocellular carcinoma in Egypt over the next 20 years. During this period, it was estimated that HCV would yield 750 210 PY of decompensated cirrhosis, 132 894 PY of hepatocellular carcinoma, and a total loss of 32.86 million years of life compared to a non-infected cohort. Our results support the claim of high HCV incidence in Egypt and suggest that HCV may lead to a substantial health and, consequently, economic burden over the next 10–20 years.