The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has launched two separate pieces of guidance aimed at European countries to help tackle hepatitis and HIV.
This first piece of guidance covers integrated viral hepatitis and HIV testing which provides options and ideas based on the latest scientific evidence for national or local hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV) and HIV testing guidelines and programmes. The guidance outlines whom, where, how and when to test for viral hepatitis and HIV and offers options for testing strategies that are applicable to all healthcare settings and beyond (e.g. self-sampling and self-testing).
Due to higher risk of infection, population groups suitable for targeted HBV, HCV and/or HIV testing include, amongst others, men who have sex with men, homeless people, sex workers, people who inject drugs, pregnant women or haemodialysis patients.
Best practice examples in the guidance provide approaches for primary healthcare settings, hospitals, STI clinics, pharmacies, prisons as well as for community settings, including drug and harm reduction services.
The ECDC Guidance advocates for a concerted effort to scale up integrated testing strategies or programmes for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV to try to reduce the large number of those that are currently infected but undiagnosed. Such integrated testing strategies or programmes should apply the six core testing principles and respect the individual needs of those tested:
- testing should be accessible, voluntary, confidential and contingent on informed consent;
- appropriate information should be available before and after testing;
- linkage to care is a critical part of an effective testing programme;
- normalising HBV, HCV and HIV testing in all healthcare settings;
- those carrying out HIV, HBV and/or HCV testing should receive appropriate training and education; and
- an effective national testing strategy, including a monitoring and evaluation framework, is critical in responding to HBV, HCV and HIV infection.
Success in increasing the testing uptake should contribute considerably to the elimination of HIV and to combat viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030 as outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals.
This guidance can be accessed on the ECDC website at: ECDC website
Secondly, guidance has been published which aims to provide EU/EEA countries with an evidence-based framework to help develop, implement, monitor and evaluate their own national HBV, HCV and HIV testing guidelines and programmes.
This guidance can also be accessed on the ECDC website
Source: ECDC, 23 November 2018