Barriers to care and treatment for patients with chronic viral hepatitis in Europe: a systematic review

Authors

  • George V. Papatheodoridis,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Gastroenterology, Athens University Medical School, Laiko General Hospital of Athens, Athens, Greece
    • Correspondence

      George V. Papatheodoridis, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Athens University Medical School, Laiko General Hospital of Athens, 17 Agiou Thoma street, 115 27 Athens, Greece

      Tel: +30 210 7456507

      Fax: +30 210 7462601

      e-mail: gepapath@med.uoa.gr

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  • Emmanuel Tsochatzis,

    1. Sheila Sherlock Liver Centre, Royal Free Hospital and UCL Institute of Liver and Digestive Health, London, UK
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  • Svenja Hardtke,

    1. Department for Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Endocrinology, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany
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  • Heiner Wedemeyer

    1. Department for Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Endocrinology, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany
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Abstract

Background & Aims

Despite the availability of effective therapies for hepatitis B (HBV) and C virus (HCV), only a minority of these patients receive treatment. We systematically reviewed published data on barriers to management for chronic HBV/HCV patients in Europe.

Methods

Literature search to identify studies including adult patients with chronic HBV/HCV infection from European countries and data on barriers to treatment.

Results

Twenty-five studies including 6253 chronic HBV and 19 014 HCV patients were identified, of which only two were from Eastern Europe. The mean rate of no treatment in HBV patients was 42% being higher in North-Western European countries than Italy (56% vs. 39%, P < 0.001). Immigrants represented the most common barrier to HBV treatment. The mean rate of no treatment in HCV RNA-positive patients was 57%, being highest in Romania (89%), intermediate in France (79%) and lower though still high in other European countries (52%, P < 0.001). The predominant barriers to HCV treatment were lack of financial resources in Romania and direct/indirect limitations of interferon-alfa and/or parenteral drug and alcohol abuse in other countries. The mean rate of no treatment was highest in HCV RNA-positive parenteral drug users (72%) and intermediate in those with HCV–HIV co-infection (64%).

Conclusions

A substantial proportion of diagnosed chronic HBV and the majority of diagnosed HCV patients remain untreated. The rates and most importantly the reasons of barriers to treatment in chronic HBV/HCV patients vary widely among European countries supporting the need for country-specific national strategies, resource allocation and implementation of global management policies.

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