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Infection. 2012 Feb;40(1):1-10. doi: 10.1007/s15010-011-0236-z. Epub 2012 Jan 12.

Hepatitis C virus infection in the Middle East and North Africa "MENA" region: injecting drug users (IDUs) is an under-investigated population.

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Medical Laboratory Sciences Department, Faculty of Health Sciences, American University of Beirut, PO Box 11-0236, Riad El-Solh, Beirut, Lebanon.



Investigation of the injecting drug users (IDUs) population is becoming extremely critical and timely in light of the recent evidence that IDUs now act as the core of hepatitis C virus (HCV) epidemics in developed countries. The purpose of this article, therefore, is not only to review the epidemiology of HCV in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, but also to see whether IDUs were adequately studied and whether harm reduction strategies to be applied for their protection have been set.


A literature review was carried out of articles published within the last decade on HCV infection.


The gathered data showed that the population of IDUs is severely under-investigated throughout the whole region, possibly due to religious and cultural impediments.


In order to reduce the risk of HCV infection in IDUs, a set of recommendations are advanced emphasizing the urgent need for bio-behavioral studies in this population in order to help identify the source and mode of transmission and the genotypes of HCV involved. These results may allow the development of effective and, yet, socially acceptable intervention strategies. We believe that the role which IDUs play in sustaining HCV infection is also an under-investigated topic in many developing countries. Similar reviews and, hence, interventions should be initiated in these regions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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