Prevention of hepatitis B and C in the EU/EEA and the UK


Urgent action is required to improve efforts to prevent hepatitis B and C infections in the EU/EEA and the UK if the region is to meet the 2020 targets for the elimination of viral hepatitis as a serious threat to public health. Significant gaps in the reported data in relation to prevalence and prevention of HBV and HCV in EU/EEA and the UK present a major challenge to monitoring progress towards the targets for elimination of hepatitis.

Executive summary

Hepatitis B

  • In the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) and the United Kingdom (UK), there are an estimated 4.7 million cases of chronic hepatitis B.
  • Hepatitis B disproportionately affects migrants, people in prison settings, men who have sex with men (MSM), and people living with HIV. Prevention efforts should focus on these key affected populations as well as pregnant women and healthcare workers.
  • Monitoring data on hepatitis B prevention show that coverage of vaccination programmes for children and key selected adult populations, antenatal screening and birth dose vaccination to prevent vertical transmission, haemovigilance, and sexual and nosocomial transmission prevention must be improved in many countries to reach the 2020 targets set by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Hepatitis C

  • In the EU/EEA and the UK, there are an estimated 3.9 million cases of chronic hepatitis C.
  • Hepatitis C disproportionately affects people who inject drugs (PWID), people in prison settings, MSM and people living with HIV. Prevention efforts are most critically needed for people who inject drugs (PWID), including in harm reduction settings and prisons.
  • Data on hepatitis C prevention targets show that significant improvements in implementation of prevention strategies among PWID, including needle and syringe programmes (NSP) and opioid substitution therapy (OST) will be needed in many countries to reach the WHO targets for 2020.