New data show a 9.8 per cent decrease in hepatitis C diagnoses in the European Union/European Economic Area (EU/EEA) between 2016 and 2017. However, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) warned that variation in national testing practices and widespread under-reporting mean the figure does not provide an accurate picture of the true epidemiological burden.
According to the latest ECDC epidemiological report on hepatitis C, 31,273 cases were reported in 29 EU/EEA Member States in 2017. Hepatitis C was more commonly reported among men than women. The most affected age groups were 35-44 years in men and 25-34 years in women.
Injecting drug use was the predominant route of transmission, accounting for 44 per cent of cases with information on transmission status, followed by nosocomial transmission which accounted for 17 per cent of acute cases, and by sex between men (15 per cent).
The ECDC said the high proportion of reported cases attributed to injecting drug use highlights the importance of harm reduction measures. “Ongoing nosocomial transmission and transmission among men who have sex with men in the region suggests the need to implement targeted and comprehensive public health programmes tailored to the local epidemiology,” it added.