Georgia

Georgia records 67% decline in prevalence of Hepatitis C over previous years

In Georgia, Deputy Health Minister Tamar Gabunia stated on Thursday, March 24, that the prevalence of Hepatitis C has declined by 67 per cent as compared to previous years.

Gabunia stated in her remarks that antiviral therapies for the Hepatitis C virus have resulted in a 97 per cent recovery rate among Georgians, which she described as “a direct indication” that the Hepatitis C Elimination Program has been “extremely effective” throughout the years.

Georgia initiated the Hepatitis C Elimination Programme back in 2015, collaborating with the American biopharmaceutical company Gilead.

Currently, about 77,000 people are enrolled in the programme.

Georgia is one of the countries with the highest hepatitis C prevalence. In 2015, around 150,000 Georgians, or 5.4 per cent of the country’s adult population, were infected with HCV. The majority of infections are among men between the ages of 30 and 60 years.

New infections continue to emerge, primarily among people who inject drugs (PWID); nonetheless, risky health practices such as failing to thoroughly screen all blood donors for hepatitis C and inadequate infection control in healthcare settings may continue to put some Georgians at risk.

Georgia has received technical assistance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help them achieve many strategic goals defined in the Strategic Plan for the Elimination of Hepatitis C Virus in Georgia. 

These six strategies include:

a) advocating for hepatitis C-related resource mobilisation through advocacy, education, and partnerships;

b) preventing HCV transmission;

c) identifying HCV-infected individuals;

d) improving hepatitis C laboratory diagnostics; 

e) providing hepatitis C care and treatment; and 

f) improving hepatitis C surveillance.

Georgia has put in place a variety of programmes and policies, identified problems and solutions for overcoming a barrier, and invested the resources necessary to keep moving forward toward its elimination targets. More than 36,000 patients living with hepatitis C had been cured in Georgia as of April 2019.

What is Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is an infection caused by a virus that attacks the liver and leads to inflammation. The disease is spread by contaminated blood by sharing needles or by unsterile tattoo equipment. The majority of persons show no signs or symptoms. Those who do experience symptoms may experience weariness, nausea, loss of appetite, and skin and eye yellowing. Antiviral medicine is used to treat hepatitis C. Newer treatments can help some patients get rid of the virus.

 

Zurab Kvaratskhelia

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