Review presented at The International Liver CongressTM 2015 documents lack of information about hepatitis B and C testing in many countries

April 25, 2015, Vienna, Austria: The apparent dearth of research on hepatitis B and C testing in many European countries could be hampering efforts to identify infected individuals, according to results from a comprehensive review of 136 studies presented today at The International Liver CongressTM 2015.

The systematic review concluded that the current evidence base on hepatitis B and C testing appears to be lacking in many European countries. At present it is informed primarily by published articles and conference abstracts from just 6 out of 53 member countries of the World Health Organization (WHO) European Region: Turkey, Germany, Italy, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

The results indicate that some high-risk populations have been studied much more than others, but mostly only in a small number of countries. The results also appear to show high median testing uptake levels across Europe. However, since almost all of the studies used methodologies that required or encouraged study participants to undergo testing, high median testing uptake levels are not likely to be representative of the overall testing uptake in most populations.

“It’s clear from our review that there are crucial gaps in our knowledge on hepatitis B and C testing – we do not yet have enough information to plan effective public health responses in Europe,” commented Professor Jeffrey Lazarus, Professor of International Health Systems at Copenhagen University, Denmark. “Our research team is particularly concerned about the low numbers of published studies looking at migrants, prison inmates and men who have sex with men – all populations that might benefit greatly from targeted hepatitis testing interventions.”

Professor Tom Hemming Karlsen, Scientific Committee Member, European Association for the Study of the Liver, added: “Viruses that affect the liver, such as hepatitis B and C, can cause real problems if not identified and treated early. We need to raise awareness of the threat posed by these viruses and actively encourage testing across Europe. This is not only vital to diagnosis and treatment but also to prevention – to stopping the viruses spreading through populations and generations to come.”

About The International Liver Congress™
This annual congress is the biggest event in the EASL calendar, attracting scientific and medical experts from around the world to learn about the latest in liver research. Specialists share research studies and findings, and discuss the hottest topics related to liver disease. This year, the congress is expected to attract approximately 10,000 delegates from all corners of the globe. 2015 is a very special year for EASL and the hepatology community as they will celebrate the 50th annual meeting. The International Liver Congress™ takes place from April 22-26, 2015, Vienna, Austria.

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Since EASL’s foundation in 1966, this not-for-profit organisation has grown to over 4,000 members from more than 100 countries around the world. EASL is the leading liver association in Europe, it attracts the foremost hepatology experts and has an impressive track record in promoting research in liver disease, supporting wider education and promoting changes in European liver policy.

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EU Public Health, Hall C
Presentation time: 12:45-13:00
Presenter: Jeffrey Lazarus (Denmark)