Background: Increasing the proportion diagnosed with and on treatment for chronic hepatitis C (CHC) is key to the elimination of hepatitis C in Europe. This study contributes to secondary prevention planning in the European Union/European Economic Area (EU/EEA) by estimating the number of CHC (anti-HCV positive and viraemic) cases among migrants living in the EU/EEA and born in endemic countries, defining the most affected migrant populations, and assessing whether country of birth prevalence is a reliable proxy for migrant prevalence. Methods: Migrant country of birth and population size extracted from statistical databases and anti-HCV prevalence in countries of birth and in EU/EEA countries derived from a systematic literature search were used to estimate caseload among and most affected migrants. Reliability of country of birth prevalence as a proxy for migrant prevalence was assessed via a systematic literature search. Results: Approximately 11% of the EU/EEA adult population is foreign-born, 79% of whom were born in endemic (anti-HCV prevalence ≥1%) countries. Anti-HCV/CHC prevalence in migrants from endemic countries residing in the EU/EEA is estimated at 2.3%/1.6%, corresponding to ~580,000 CHC infections or 14% of the CHC disease burden in the EU/EEA. The highest number of cases is found among migrants from Romania and Russia (50-60,000 cases each) and migrants from Italy, Morocco, Pakistan, Poland and Ukraine (25-35,000 cases each). Ten studies reporting prevalence in migrants in Europe were identified; in seven of these estimates, prevalence was comparable with the country of birth prevalence and in three estimates it was lower. Discussion: Migrants are disproportionately affected by CHC, account for a considerable number of CHC infections in EU/EEA countries, and are an important population for targeted case finding and treatment. Limited data suggest that country of birth prevalence can be used as a proxy for the prevalence in migrants.

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Keywords Chronic viral hepatitis, Epidemiology, Europe, Hepatitis C virus (HCV), Migrants
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Journal BMC Infectious Diseases
Falla, A, Ahmad, R.A, Duffell, E. (E.), Noori, T, & Veldhuijzen, I.K. (2018). Estimating the scale of chronic hepatitis C virus infection in the EU/EEA: A focus on migrants from anti-HCV endemic countries. BMC Infectious Diseases, 18(1). doi:10.1186/s12879-017-2908-5