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Home > Calls for an extended surveillance system for hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

Long, Jean (2004) Calls for an extended surveillance system for hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 10, March 2004, p. 10.

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In December 2003, the National Disease Surveillance Centre published its Annual Report for 2002.  This report includes surveillance information (up to 2001 or 2002) on a number of diseases of interest to those working with drug users, including HIV, viral hepatitis, other sexually transmitted infections and tuberculosis.  The HIV data presented were reported in Drugnet Ireland Issue 9. 

The number of hepatitis B cases continued to increase, from 342 in 2001 to 458 in 2002.  Just over half of all notified cases were aged between 25 and 34 years and the proportion of male cases was approximately equal the proportion of females.  The data collected with respect to hepatitis B do not include risk factor status, therefore trends in this infection among injecting drug users cannot be ascertained. 

Up to the end of 2003, hepatitis C was not specified as a notifiable disease and may be reported as unspecified hepatitis.  In 2002, there were 89 cases of unspecified hepatitis C notified; of whom, 93 per cent of cases were identified as hepatitis C.  According to data from the Hospital In-Patient Enquiry Scheme, there were 1,100 hospital discharges with a principal diagnosis of hepatitis C and a further 4,985 discharges with a subsequent diagnosis of hepatitis C between 1999 and 2001.  Taken together, this would indicate a low level of reporting for hepatitis C.  The inclusion of hepatitis C as a notifiable disease (from 2004 onwards) will provide data on new cases of hepatitis C in the general population but will not specify risk populations (such as injecting drug users).

Once again it must be stressed that the inability to analyse hepatitis data by risk populations leads to poor targeting of interventions and an inability to comply with the data requirements of one of the five key indicators (namely, the drug-related infectious diseases indicator) identified by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.  The authors of the report state that hepatitis surveillance data would be more useful if an enhanced surveillance system were introduced.  An enhanced surveillance system would include the specification of risk factors for each case notified with hepatitis.


Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
Intervention Type
Harm reduction
Issue Title
Issue 10, March 2004
March 2004
Page Range
p. 10
Health Research Board
Issue 10, March 2004
Accession Number
HRB (Available)

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