Hepatitis B and C in Switzerland - healthcare provider initiated testing for chronic hepatitis B and C infection

Swiss Med Wkly. 2013 May 17;143:w13793. doi: 10.4414/smw.2013.13793. eCollection 2013.


Hepatitis B and hepatitis C are contagious liver diseases caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV) and the hepatitis C virus (HCV), respectively. In particular, chronic infection with HBV or HCV is a major public health problem throughout Europe. The majority of persons chronically infected (65%-75%) are not aware of their infection status until symptoms of advanced liver disease appear. In addition, the peak in the number of patients suffering from advanced stages of the disease, such as cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma, has not yet been reached. In order to reduce the current and future morbidity and mortality associated with chronic HBV or HCV infection, the timely detection of chronically infected persons, with follow-up and case management, is crucial. However, the current screening strategies in Europe and Switzerland have to be considered as inadequate to detect the majority of chronically infected persons. Hence, we emphasise the importance of an alternative approach: the healthcare provider initiated identification of HBV or HCV infection in defined risk groups. This entails determining whether a person is not only at risk of being chronically infected, but also at risk of becoming infected with HBV or HCV and, if necessary, testing for HBV or HCV infection.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Hepatitis B, Chronic / diagnosis*
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / diagnosis*
  • Mass Screening
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Primary Health Care / methods*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Secondary Prevention
  • Switzerland