Europe far from achieving hepatitis C elimination targets

Dr Erika Duffell, European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) speaking at the 18th European AIDS Conference (EACS 2021)

HPN December 2021 Digital – 84

European Union states are far from reaching the global targets towards hepatitis C elimination. This is especially on harm reduction, testing and treatment. Dr Erika Duffell of the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) told the 18th European AIDS Conference (EACS 2021) recently.

In 2016, the World Health Assembly agreed global targets for elimination of viral hepatitis as a public health problem by 2030. The targets aim to eliminate viral hepatitis. This is by reducing new viral hepatitis infections by 90%. In addition to this, reducing deaths due to viral hepatitis by 65% by 2030.

Dr Duffell reviewed progress on elimination of hepatitis C

This is because it is the predominant hepatitis virus in the European region.

ECDC estimates that 3.9 million people were living with it in the European Union. As well as United Kingdom, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway in 2015, around % of the global burden of hepatitis C (71 million).

Hepatitis C prevalence in the region is highly concentrated among several key populations, notably people who inject drugs. Estimates of prevalence among people who inject drugs range from 15 to 64% across various countries of the region. High hepatitis C prevalence has also been reported in people in prisons in some countries.

Prevalence is also high in men who have sex with men, especially those living with HIV (1-5%), and in migrants (1-17%).

Measuring progress towards elimination in the region is challenging. This is due to lack of data collection or national targets for elimination in some countries, Dr Duffell observed. In 2020, majority of countries in the region still lacked up-to-date estimates of how many are living with the virus.

Duffell E. How far are we from eliminating hepatitis C in Europe? 18th European AIDS Conference, London, parallel session B2, 2021.

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