Toolkit to support the generation of robust estimates of hepatitis C prevalence

Toolkit Surveillance and monitoring

Suggested citation: European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Technical protocol for hepatitis C prevalence surveys in the general population . Stockholm: ECDC; 2020

European surveillance data show on-going transmission of viral hepatitis across the European Union and European Economic Area (EU/EEA). The available notification data however, do not provide a clear epidemiological picture of hepatitis C in Europe. Prevalence data from population surveys are a key source of information to complement the surveillance data for hepatitis C due to the limitations of surveillance for hepatitis: the infection is often asymptomatic and notifications are strongly influenced by local testing practices. The overarching aim of this toolkit is to gain a better understanding of the HCV epidemiology in the EU/EEA.

Executive summary

This toolkit supports Member States in generating robust prevalence estimates for hepatitis C.

This toolkit offers:

1. An algorithm to assist EU/EEA Member States in their decision-making around selecting the type of HCV prevalence survey that should be undertaken


2. The technical protocol for conducting hepatitis C prevalence surveys in the general population

This protocol consists of two parts:

- Selection of survey approach  

- Planning and conducting the survey

3. Modelled estimates of the national burden of viral hepatitis C in EU/EEA countries These estimates are modelled using multi-parameter evidence synthesis methods based on published and unpublished data. (TO BE PUBLISHED LATE 2020)

See also the ECDC hepatitis C virus (HCV) prevalence studies database (below) which provides an easy access compilation of results from published studies of prevalence conducted in EU/EEA countries in the general population and key risk groups.

Hepatitis C prevalence database

Prevalence data from sources such as population surveys can be a useful complement to case based surveillance data for hepatitis C. Case-based surveillance has limitations as most diagnosed cases are chronic in nature and detection of cases depends largely on testing practices. Prevalence data can therefore contribute towards a fuller understanding of the epidemiology of hepatitis C.

Publication data