Introduction: scope and purpose of this guidance

What is this guidance about?

This guidance aims to ensure more people at increased risk of hepatitis B and C infection are tested.

The recommendations cover:

  • Awareness-raising among:

    • the general population

    • people at increased risk of hepatitis B and C infection.

  • Developing the knowledge and skills of healthcare professionals and others providing services for people at increased risk of hepatitis B or C infection.

  • Testing:

  • Contact tracing.

  • Providing and auditing neonatal hepatitis B vaccination.

  • Commissioning hepatitis B and C testing and treatment services.

  • Laboratory services for hepatitis B and C testing.

This guidance does not provide detail on treatments for hepatitis B or C. (For treatment recommendations see other NICE guidance listed in section 7.)

Who is this guidance for?

The guidance is for:

  • Commissioners and providers of public health services, hepatitis testing and treatment services and laboratory services for hepatitis B and C testing.

  • Local organisations providing services for children and adults at increased risk of hepatitis B and C infection, including those in the NHS, local authorities, prisons, immigration removal centres and drugs services. It is also for voluntary sector and community organisations working with people at increased risk.

The guidance may also be of interest to groups at increased risk of viral hepatitis, for example, migrant populations from countries with an intermediate or high prevalence of hepatitis B or hepatitis C infection or people who inject drugs and their families. In addition, other members of the public may have an interest in this guidance.

Why is this guidance being produced?

The Department of Health (DH) asked the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) to produce this guidance.

The guidance should be implemented alongside other guidance and regulations (for more details, see sections 4 and 7 on implementation and related NICE guidance respectively).

How was this guidance developed?

The recommendations are based on the best available evidence. They were developed by the Programme Development Group (PDG).

Members of the PDG are listed in appendix A.

The guidance was developed using the NICE public health programme process. See appendix B for details.

Supporting documents used to prepare this document are listed in appendix E.

What evidence is the guidance based on?

The evidence that the PDG considered included: reviews of the evidence, economic modelling, the testimony of expert witnesses and stakeholder comments. Further detail on the evidence is given in the considerations section (section 3) and appendices B and C.

In some cases the evidence was insufficient and the PDG has made recommendations for future research.

More details on the evidence on which this guidance is based, and NICE's processes for developing public health guidance, are on the NICE website.

Status of this guidance

This is final guidance.

The guidance complements but does not replace other NICE guidance on hepatitis B and C (for further details, see section 7).