National Center for AIDS/STD Control and Prevention, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Beijing, China.
Hepatitis C virus infection is a perennial concern for hemodialysis units because the prevalence of hepatitis C is significantly higher there than in the general population. Through a systematic review and meta-analysis, we aim to assess the incidence rate of hepatitis C virus infection in hemodialysis units and explore its potential risk factors. Five electronic databases were used to search articles from 1990 to 2012, including PubMed, Embase, China National Knowledge Infrastructure, Chinese Biomedical Literature Database, and Wanfang. A random-effects analysis was used to estimate the overall incidence rate of hepatitis C virus infection. A subgroup analysis and meta-regression analysis were conducted to explore factors associated with heterogeneity between studies. Twenty-two eligible articles were found, including 23 incidence rate estimates. The overall incidence rate of hepatitis C virus infection was 1.47 per 100 patient-years (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.14 to 1.80). In the subgroup analysis, the pooled incidence rate was 4.44 (CI 2.65, 6.23) per 100 patient-years in the developing world and 0.99 (CI 0.67, 1.03) per 100 patient-years in the developed world. In addition, in hemodialysis units with higher prevalence, the incidence rate of hepatitis C virus infection also tended to be higher. Meta-regression analysis showed that the country's development level and initial HCV prevalence combined could explain 67.91% of the observed heterogeneity. The incidence rate of hepatitis C virus infection among patients on hemodialysis was significantly high. Efforts should be taken to control hepatitis C virus infection in hemodialysis units, especially in developing countries.