Published online Nov 12, 2016. doi: 10.5501/wjv.v5.i4.170
Peer-review started: April 1, 2016
First decision: May 17, 2016
Revised: June 5, 2016
Accepted: July 11, 2016
Article in press: July 13, 2016
Published online: November 12, 2016
To assess hepatitis C virus (HCV) geographic integration, evaluate the spatial and temporal evolution of HCV worldwide and propose how to diminish its burden.
A literature search of published articles was performed using PubMed, MEDLINE and other related databases up to December 2015. A critical data assessment and analysis regarding the epidemiological integration of HCV was carried out using the meta-analysis method.
The data indicated that HCV has been integrated immensely over time and through various geographical regions worldwide. The history of HCV goes back to 1535 but between 1935 and 1965 it exhibited a rapid, exponential spread. This integration is clearly seen in the geo-epidemiology and phylogeography of HCV. HCV integration can be mirrored either as intra-continental or trans-continental. Migration, drug trafficking and HCV co-infection, together with other potential risk factors, have acted as a vehicle for this integration. Evidence shows that the geographic integration of HCV has been important in the global and regional distribution of HCV.
HCV geographic integration is clearly evident and this should be reflected in the prevention and treatment of this ongoing pandemic.
Core tip: Geographic integration of hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a newly described epidemiological phenomenon that is illustrated for the first time in this review article. The global burden of HCV infection has surpassed expectations and HCV genotypes are no longer restricted to certain countries or regions. All countries and their citizens are at a higher risk of HCV infection. HCV integration can be either intra-continental or trans-continental. Globalization, immigration and drug trafficking, in addition to the traditional HCV transmission factors, have acted as vectors for the geographical integration of HCV. International efforts and new strategies that go beyond borders should be combined to tackle this global threat.