Skip to main navigation menu Skip to main content Skip to site footer

Original article

Vol. 153 No. 6 (2023)

Hepatitis C antibody test frequencies and positive rates in Switzerland from 2007 to 2017: a retrospective longitudinal study

  • Rosario Agosti-Gonzalez
  • Luis Falcato
  • Thomas Grischott
  • Oliver Senn
  • Philip Bruggmann
Cite this as:
Swiss Med Wkly. 2023;153:40085


ACKGROUND AND AIMS: The prevalence of chronic hepatitis C in Switzerland is currently estimated at approximately 32,000 affected individuals (0.37% of the permanent resident population). An estimated 40% of affected individuals in Switzerland is undiagnosed. The Swiss Federal Office of Public Health requires laboratories to report all positive hepatitis C virus (HCV) test results. Approximately 900 newly diagnosed cases are reported annually. The number of HCV tests performed, however, is not collected by the Federal Office of Public Health and positive rates are therefore unknown. The aim of this study was to describe the longitudinal course of the numbers of hepatitis C antibody tests and of positive rates in Switzerland for the years 2007 to 2017.

METHODS: Twenty laboratories were asked to provide the number of HCV antibody tests performed and the number of positive antibody tests per year. Using data from the Federal Office of Public Health reporting system for the years 2012 to 2017, we calculated a factor to correct our values for multiple tests of the same person.

RESULTS: The annual number of HCV antibody tests performed tripled linearly from 2007 to 2017 (from 42,105 to 121,266) while the number of positive HCV antibody test results increased by only 75% over the same period (from 1360 to 2379). The HCV antibody test positive rate steadily decreased from 3.2% in 2007 to 2.0% in 2017. After correction for multiple tests per person, the person-level HCV antibody tested positive rate decreased from 2.2% to 1.7% from 2012 to 2017.

CONCLUSION: In the Swiss laboratories considered, more HCV antibody tests were performed each year in the period (2007–2017) before and during the approval of the new hepatitis C drugs. At the same time, the HCV antibody positive rates decreased, both on a per-test as well as a per-person level. This study is the first to describe the evolution of tests performed and of positive rates for HCV antibody in Switzerland at the national level over several years. In order to more accurately guide future measures to achieve the goal of eliminating hepatitis C by 2030, we recommend annual collection and publication of positive rates by health authorities, along with mandatory reporting of numbers of tests and people treated.


  1. Hepatitis C. World Health Organization (WHO).
  2. Bihl F, Bruggmann P, Castro Batänjer E, Dufour JF, Lavanchy D, Müllhaupt B, et al. HCV disease burden and population segments in Switzerland. Liver Int. 2022 Feb;42(2):330–9. 10.1111/liv.15111 DOI:
  3. Zahnd C, Brezzi M, Bertisch B, Giudici F, Keiser O. Situationsanalyse zu Hepatitis B und C in der Schweiz 2017.
  4. Mühlberger N, Schwarzer R, Lettmeier B, Sroczynski G, Zeuzem S, Siebert U. HCV-related burden of disease in Europe: a systematic assessment of incidence, prevalence, morbidity, and mortality. BMC Public Health. 2009 Jan;9(1):34. 10.1186/1471-2458-9-34 DOI:
  5. Sexuell übertragene Infektionen und Hepatitis B/C in der Schweiz im Jahr 2020: eine epidemiologische Übersicht. BAG-Bulletin 48 vom 29. November 2021 2021.
  6. Meldepflichtige Infektionskrankheiten – Wöchentliche Fallzahlen. [
  7. Welche Corona-Kennziffer bedeutet was? [
  8. Blachier M, Leleu H, Peck-Radosavljevic M, Valla DC, Roudot-Thoraval F. The burden of liver disease in Europe: a review of available epidemiological data. J Hepatol. 2013 Mar;58(3):593–608. 10.1016/j.jhep.2012.12.005 DOI:
  9. Hajarizadeh B, Grebely J, Dore GJ. Epidemiology and natural history of HCV infection. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2013 Sep;10(9):553–62. 10.1038/nrgastro.2013.107 DOI:
  10. Lawitz E, Mangia A, Wyles D, Rodriguez-Torres M, Hassanein T, Gordon SC, et al. Sofosbuvir for previously untreated chronic hepatitis C infection. N Engl J Med. 2013 May;368(20):1878–87. 10.1056/NEJMoa1214853 DOI:
  11. Jacobson IM, Gordon SC, Kowdley KV, Yoshida EM, Rodriguez-Torres M, Sulkowski MS, et al.; POSITRON Study; FUSION Study. Sofosbuvir for hepatitis C genotype 2 or 3 in patients without treatment options. N Engl J Med. 2013 May;368(20):1867–77. 10.1056/NEJMoa1214854 DOI:
  12. It is Time to Act Now! Process Paper – A Living Document, [
  13. Richard JL, Schaetti C, Basler S, Mäusezahl M. The epidemiology of hepatitis C in Switzerland: trends in notifications, 1988-2015. Swiss Med Wkly. 2018 Apr;148:w14619.
  14. Chevaliez S, Pawlotsky JM. Hepatitis C virus serologic and virologic tests and clinical diagnosis of HCV-related liver disease. Int J Med Sci. 2006;3(2):35–40. 10.7150/ijms.3.35 DOI:

Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 3 4 > >>