World Hepatitis Day 2016
On the occasion of World Hepatitis Day, ECDC launched 2014 surveillance data on hepatitis B and C in Europe. The data showed a greater disease burden for hepatitis C compared with hepatitis B across Europe: numbers and notification rates for HCV were nearly twice as high as those of hepatitis B.
World Hepatitis Day is marked on 28 July each year to increase the awareness and understanding of viral hepatitis. The five known hepatitis viruses are types A, B, C, D and E. ECDC coordinates the enhanced surveillance for hepatitis A (HAV), B (HBV) and C (HCV).
Viral hepatitis affects millions of people across Europe but as many infections are accompanied by no symptoms, the ‘silent disease’ is often not diagnosed. Left untreated, chronic infection with hepatitis B and C may progress to liver cirrhosis or cancer.
The goal: eliminating viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030. Currently, Europe reports around 57000 newly diagnosed acute and chronic cases of hepatitis B and C each year. What is more, is that an estimated 10 million Europeans suffer from chronic hepatitis B and C infection – most of them without knowing it as hepatitis is largely asymptomatic.
Steps needed to eliminate viral hepatitis by 2030:
Across Europe, those who might be unknowingly infected with viral hepatitis need to be identified through more testing;
Treatment programmes across Europe and coverage of local prevention and control practices need to be scaled up to interrupt existing transmission chains and to reduce morbidity and mortality;
Countries should continue to improve their surveillance systems to understand the local burden of viral hepatitis.
It is especially important that those most at-risk for hepatitis have easy access to testing, for example men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs or migrants from countries where the prevalence viral hepatitis is high. As reaching and testing those at risk of infection is still a public health challenge across Europe, ECDC supports the efforts of the European HIV-Hepatitis testing week.
ECDC coordinates the enhanced surveillance for hepatitis A, B and C to help countries assess the hepatitis disease burden, evaluate existing prevention and control strategies, and to define epidemiological trends or transmission patterns.