EU/EEA capacity for the surveillance of hepatitis B and C using molecular methods

Technical report
Citation Link

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. EU/EEA capacity for the surveillance of hepatitis B and C using molecular methods. Stockholm: ECDC; 2018. 

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In order to explore whether the current capacity for EU/EEA-wide molecular characterisation for surveillance of HBV and HCV is sufficient to be feasible and what gaps need to be addressed, a survey of EU/EEA Member States was conducted to assess their laboratory capacity and needs in relation to the molecular characterisation of hepatitis B and C.

Executive summary

The global burden of disease due to hepatitis B and C virus infection is high, and chronic infection with these viruses can lead to cirrhosis, liver failure and hepatocellular carcinoma. Effective treatments exist for both chronic hepatitis B and C; however, the treatment regimen to be given for hepatitis C depends on the genotype of the virus. Currently, data on hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotypes are not widely reported by European Union/European Economic Area (EU/EEA) countries. EU/EEA-wide surveillance of HBV and HCV genotypes would allow for monitoring of circulating genotypes, enhanced identification of populations at risk of infection and mapping of transmission patterns to better target prevention and control interventions, especially for hepatitis C, across European countries. A survey was conducted to assess the laboratory capacity and needs in relation to molecular characterisation of hepatitis B and C virus in EU/EEA countries.  

Sixteen (53%) of the 30 EU/EEA countries participated in this survey. Seven countries reported that they conduct sequence-based characterisation of HBV strains to monitor HBV genotype at national level, and eight countries reported that they have similar processes for HCV. Five countries reported that they perform surveillance for HBV genotypes and four countries for HCV genotypes. Similarities in laboratory methods were identified among the countries currently performing such surveillance. Laboratory capacity for HBV/HCV genotyping was reported by eleven of the participating countries. HBV and HCV genotype surveillance has not yet been widely implemented in EU/EEA and this may provide an opportunity for better alignment and comparability in the future implementation of such systems.

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