Background: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major cause of liver diseases. It has been determined that HCV genotypes have a distinct geographical distribution, clinical outcome, and response to antiviral therapy. Over the past years, many studies have reported that HCV genotype 1a is the dominant genotype in Ahvaz city. In recent years, changes in the distribution pattern of HCV genotypes of different geographical regions have attracted a great deal of attention; hence, the aim of this study was to accurately evaluate such probable changes in Ahvaz in southwestern Iran.
Methods: This is a cross-sectional study conducted from September 2017 to August 2020, including 262 patients suffering from chronic hepatitis C. HCV-RNA was extracted, and HCV genotyping was performed by PCR-RFLP (polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism) method. To evaluate the association between HCV genotype, age, gender, and viral load, statistical analyses were done by SPSS software.
Results: HCV genotyping was done on 260 patients where genotype 3a had the highest prevalence over the period of 4 years with an average of 48.1%, followed by genotype 1a (46.5%). HCV genotype of two patients was not typeable. Although the difference between the two genotypes is currently small, the main result was finding an increasing trend in the prevalence of genotype 3a in recent years.
Conclusions: The present study showed that the distribution pattern of HCV genotypes is gradually changing among chronic hepatitis C patients in Ahvaz city. The most important cause of such changes could be the alteration in HCV transmission routes and the increase in migration from areas where genotype 3 is dominant.