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Hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections are frequent causes of acute and chronic hepatitis worldwide and leading causes for hepatic cirrhosis and cancer. There is a distinct geographical variation in HBV and HCV incidence and prevalence in the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area/European Free Trade Association (EEA/EFTA) member states and neighbouring countries. The HBV carrier prevalence ranges from 0.1 to 8.0% and that of HCV from 0.1 to 6.0%. Within the last few years, the HBV incidence has decreased while the HCV incidence has increased. Both diseases are concentrated in certain subpopulations, such as injecting drug users, with tens of times higher prevalence than in the general population. Most EU and EEA/EFTA countries have a surveillance system for HBV and HCV infections, but due to differences in system structures, reporting practices, data collection methods and case definitions used, the surveillance data are difficult to compare across countries. The harmonisation and strengthening of HBV and HCV surveillance at the European level is of utmost importance to obtain more robust data on these diseases.


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