European surveillance data show ongoing transmission of hepatitis B and, despite a recent slight decline, high annual levels of hepatitis C diagnoses.
Marking World Hepatitis Day on 28 July, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said targeted testing to reach those most at risk of infection is an essential element of any strategy to eliminate viral hepatitis across the countries in the European Union and European Economic Area (EU/EEA).
In 2017, the majority (58%) of the almost 27,000 newly reported hepatitis B cases in the EU/EEA were classified as chronic infections. This follows a consistent upward trend in reported chronic hepatitis B cases since 2008.
While there was a 10 per cent decrease in newly reported hepatitis C cases between 2016 and 2017, with more than 31,000 recorded cases in 2017, diagnoses remain at a high level in the EU/EEA. In addition, variation in national testing practices and widespread under-reporting of diagnosed cases do not provide an accurate picture of the true epidemiological burden, said the ECDC.
The ECDC’s guidance on integrated viral hepatitis and HIV testing provides options and ideas based on the latest scientific evidence for national or local hepatitis B, C and HIV testing guidelines and programmes.