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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 12  |  Page : 6213-6216

Impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the elimination of hepatitis C virus in Duhok, Kurdistan, Iraq: A retrospective cross-sectional study

1 Department of Biomedical Science, College of Medicine, University of Zakho, Kurdistan Region, Iraq
2 Basic Sciences Department, College of Dentistry, University of Duhok, Kurdistan Region, Iraq
3 College of Medicine, University of Duhok, Kurdistan Region, Iraq

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Ibrahim A Naqid
Department of Biomedical Science, College of Medicine, University of Zakho, Kurdistan Region
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_1675_20

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Background and Aim: Infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a public health threat worldwide. The World Health Organization aims to eliminate HCV. However, the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has led to a severe compromise in health services, and this has halted efforts to eliminate HCV. Herein, we report our experience with the initiative of HCV elimination in Duhok city, Kurdistan Region of Iraq, with a focus on the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the HCV elimination plan. Materials and Methods: An anti-HCV antibody test was used to screen subjects. All positive results were then confirmed by reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing. All patients with current HCV infection were treated with direct-acting antiviral regimens. Results: During the study period, 459,015 subjects were tested for anti-HCV antibody positivity, with a monthly average of 9,562 tests for HCV. This number dropped to zero during the lockdown period between 1March and 31May 2020. Among the tested samples, 0.29% (1350/459015) tested positive for anti-HCV antibodies. RT-PCR testing of all positive samples revealed that 0.020% (93/459015) were positive. Of the 93 recruited subjects, 3 patients did not complete the treatment course due to the lockdown. All patients who finished the treatment course were cured as determined by sustained virologic response 12 (SVR12) weeks after finishing the treatment course. Conclusion: During the COVID-19 pandemic, reductions in health facility utilisation led to a significant decrease in services offered for HCV screening and treatment. Such a decrease in services has had a negative impact on HCV elimination. An urgent plan is needed to resume the services, and strict follow-up is needed for patients whose treatment was interrupted.

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