Hepatitis B and C in Europe: an update from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019

Lancet Public Health. 2023 Sep;8(9):e701-e716. doi: 10.1016/S2468-2667(23)00149-4.


Background: In 2016, the World Health Assembly adopted the resolution to eliminate viral hepatitis by 2030. This study aims to provide an overview of the burdens of hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) in Europe and their changes from 2010 to 2019 using estimates from the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) 2019.

Methods: We used GBD 2019 estimates of the burden associated with HBV-related and HCV-related diseases: acute hepatitis, cirrhosis and other chronic liver diseases, and liver cancer. We report total numbers and age-standardised rates per 100 000 for mortality, prevalence, incidence, and disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) from 2010 to 2019. For each HBV-related and HCV-related disease and each measure, we analysed temporal changes and percentage changes for the 2010-19 period.

Findings: In 2019, across all age groups, there were an estimated 2·08 million (95% uncertainty interval [UI] 1·66 to 2·54) incident cases of acute hepatitis B and 0·49 million (0·42 to 0·57) of hepatitis C in Europe. There were an estimated 8·24 million (7·56 to 8·88) prevalent cases of HBV-related cirrhosis and 11·87 million (9·77 to 14·41) of HCV-related cirrhosis, with 24·92 thousand (19·86 to 31·03) deaths due to HBV-related cirrhosis and 36·89 thousand (29·94 to 45·56) deaths due to HCV-related cirrhosis. Deaths were estimated at 9·00 thousand (6·88 to 11·62) due to HBV-related liver cancer and 23·07 thousand (18·95 to 27·31) due to HCV-related liver cancer. Between 2010 and 2019, the age-standardised incidence rate of acute hepatitis B decreased (-22·14% [95% UI -35·44 to -5·98]) as did its age-standardised mortality rate (-33·27% [-43·03 to -25·49]); the age-standardised prevalence rate (-20·60% [-22·09 to -19·10]) and mortality rate (-33·19% [-37·82 to -28·13]) of HBV-related cirrhosis also decreased in this time period. The age-standardised incidence rate of acute hepatitis C decreased by 3·24% (1·17 to 5·02) and its age-standardised mortality rate decreased by 35·73% (23·48 to 47·75) between 2010 and 2019; the age-standardised prevalence rate (-6·37% [-8·11 to -4·32]), incidence rate (-5·87% [-11·24 to -1·01]), and mortality rate (-11·11% [-16·54 to -5·53]) of HCV-related cirrhosis also decreased. No significant changes were observed in age-standardised rates of HBV-related and HCV-related liver cancer, although we observed a significant increase in numbers of cases of HCV-related liver cancer across all ages between 2010 and 2019 (16·41% [2·81 to 30·91] increase in prevalent cases). Substantial reductions in DALYs since 2010 were estimated for acute hepatitis B (-27·82% [-36·92 to -20·24]), acute hepatitis C (-27·07% [-15·97 to -39·34]), and HBV-related cirrhosis (-30·70% [-35·75 to -25·03]). A moderate reduction in DALYs was estimated for HCV-related cirrhosis (-6·19% [-0·19 to -12·57]). Only HCV-related liver cancer showed a significant increase in DALYs (10·37% [4·81-16·63]). Changes in age-standardised DALY rates closely resembled those observed for overall DALY counts, except for HCV-liver related cancer (-2·84% [-7·75 to 2·63]).

Interpretation: Although decreases in some HBV-related and HCV-related diseases were estimated between 2010 and 2019, HBV-related and HCV-related diseases are still associated with a high burden, highlighting the need for more intensive and coordinated interventions within European countries to reach the goal of elimination by 2030.

Funding: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Global Burden of Disease
  • Hepatitis B* / epidemiology
  • Hepatitis C* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Liver Cirrhosis / epidemiology
  • Liver Neoplasms*