Background: Approximately 170 million people are infected with Hepatitis C virus (HCV) worldwide, making it one of the world’s major infectious diseases. There are no published population based studies about the prevalence of HCV genotypes in Bahrain. Objectives: Therefore, the aim of the present study was to investigate the prevalence and distribution of HCV genotypes and subtypes among a large sample of patients with chronic HCV infection in Bahrain. Patients and Methods: Serum samples were collected from 202 HCV positive patients; of them 128 had a viral load (> 500 IU/mL) suitable for the type-specific genotyping assay. Gender-wise and age-wise differences in the distribution of HCV genotypes were determined by Chi Square and Fisher’s Exact tests. Results: The predominant genotype among Bahraini patients was type 1 (36.71%), followed by genotypes 3 and 4 (15.6% each) and the lowest frequency was found for genotype 2 (3.9%). Among genotype 1, subtype 1b had the highest frequency (21.09%), followed by subtype 1a (14.06%). Among genotype 3, subtype 3a had the highest frequency (11.72%), while among genotype 4, most of subtypes were undetermined. The frequency of all different HCV genotypes was higher in male patients compared to female patients. Genotype 1 was most common in the age group of 51 - 60 years (38.3%), genotype 2 in 21 - 30 years (60%) and genotype 3 in 51 - 60 years (30%), while genotype 4 was most frequent among the age group>61 (40%). Conclusions: The most common HCV genotype in Bahrain was subtype 1b followed by 1a and 3a. Further studies involving sources of transmission in Bahrain are required to enhance control measures for HCV infection.
- Hepatitis C Virus