HEPscreen > What can we do about it? > Before deciding to screen – weighing the benefits, harms and cost effectiveness

Before deciding to screen – weighing the benefits, harms and cost effectiveness

Screening can be defined as the search to identify in an otherwise healthy population people at risk of, or in a pre-clinical phase of, a particular disease. To learn more about the concept of screening, visit the ‘What is Screening?’ pages of the National Screening Committee of the NHS in the UK: http://www.screening.nhs.uk/screening.

Before deciding to screen for a particular disease, there are important conditions that should be met because screening targets ‘healthy’ people. HEPscreen have examined the application and implication of screening criteria to viral hepatitis. This insight is shared in this section.

We argue that there is sufficient evidence of cost-effectiveness and that the benefits of screening outweigh the harms. Alongside this, models predict that the peak in mortality due to viral hepatitis in Europe is yet to come and there remains a large, but as yet undiagnosed burden of disease. This burden is especially found in communities of people who migrated from areas where HBV/HCV are more common. Screening among these populations can prevent a large proportion of associated mortality and morbidity as well as to prevent further transmission to others from infected people.