Prevalence of chronic HCV infection in EU/EEA countries in 2019 using multiparameter evidence synthesis

Lancet Reg Health Eur. 2023 Dec 13:36:100792. doi: 10.1016/j.lanepe.2023.100792. eCollection 2024 Jan.


Background: Epidemiological data are crucial to monitoring progress towards the 2030 Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) elimination targets. Our aim was to estimate the prevalence of chronic HCV infection (cHCV) in the European Union (EU)/European Economic Area (EEA) countries in 2019.

Methods: Multi-parameter evidence synthesis (MPES) was used to produce national estimates of cHCV defined as: π = πrecρrec + πexρex + πnonρnon; πrec, πex, and πnon represent cHCV prevalence among recent people who inject drugs (PWID), ex-PWID, and non-PWID, respectively, while ρrec, ρex, and ρnon represent the proportions of these groups in the population. Information sources included the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) national operational contact points (NCPs) and prevalence database, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction databases, and the published literature.

Findings: The cHCV prevalence in 29 of 30 EU/EEA countries in 2019 was 0.50% [95% Credible Interval (CrI): 0.46%, 0.55%]. The highest cHCV prevalence was observed in the eastern EU/EEA (0.88%; 95% CrI: 0.81%, 0.94%). At least 35.76% (95% CrI: 33.07%, 38.60%) of the overall cHCV prevalence in EU/EEA countries was associated with injecting drugs.

Interpretation: Using MPES and collaborating with ECDC NCPs, we estimated the prevalence of cHCV in the EU/EEA to be low. Some areas experience higher cHCV prevalence while a third of prevalent cHCV infections was attributed to PWID. Further efforts are needed to scale up prevention measures and the diagnosis and treatment of infected individuals, especially in the east of the EU/EEA and among PWID.

Funding: ECDC.

Keywords: Chronic hepatitis; Elimination; Europe; HCV; Hepatitis C; Prevalence.