Europe is currently seeing three outbreaks of hepatitis A that are linked to adult men who have sex with men (MSM). Since February 2016, 287 cases have been reported in a total of 13 countries, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).


In December, England, the Netherlands and Germany informed the international disease network about increases in the number of hepatitis A cases, primarily among men who have sex with men (MSM). Molecular biological typing of the hepatitis A virus has shown that three different variants of the genotype IA are causing the increase, which has subsequently been reported in another 10 countries.

The main prevention measure in the context of the current outbreaks is hepatitis A vaccination of MSM. The ECDC guidance for HIV and sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention among men who have sex with men encourages Member States to offer and promote vaccination of MSM against hepatitis A. Information on vaccine availability should be included in health promotion programmes targeting MSM, particularly at sex venues.

Hepatitis A is transmitted person-to-person through the fecal-oral/sexual route. Among MSM, Hepatitis A can be spread through direct anal-oral contact or contact with fingers or objects that have been in or near the anus of an infected person and contaminated with stool.