As we observe World Hepatitis Day on 28 July, take this alarming fact: Last year Georgia had the world’s third highest prevalence of hepatitis C, after Egypt and Mongolia, with nearly 7 percent of adults carrying the virus.
95% of people with Hepatitis C or B are unaware that they have it, according to the World Heath Organisation (WHO).
In Georgia, the results of 15 months progam have been extremely positive, with thousands of people now cured of the infectious disease.
One reason for this is that people can live without any symptoms for many years. When they find out they have hepatitis, it is often too late for treatment to be fully effective.
Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus. The virus can cause both acute and chronic hepatitis infection – ranging in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, life-long illness.
It is a blood borne virus and the most common modes of infection are through unsafe injection practices, inadequate sterilization of medical equipment, and the transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products.
According to the WHO, antiviral medicines can cure approximately 90% of persons with hepatitis C infection and while there is currently no vaccine for hepatitis C, research in this area is ongoing.
It is estimated that between 130 to 150 million people worldwide have a chronic hepatitis C infection.
The figures resealed by the WHO today also show that 95% of those with hepatitis B are also unaware they are infected. Unlike Hepatitis C, Hep B can be vaccinated against along with the hepatitis A virus.
Hepatitis B and C are both spread through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person – while hep A is transmitted through ingestion of contaminated food and water or through direct contact with an infectious person, making this chain of the virus the most easily contracted.
However in Georgia, Figures have showed more than 14,000 people have engaged in the program since it launched last April, and more than 5,000 individuals had finished their treatment.
Thanks to the treatment program, 92 percent of beneficiaries or 4,600 patients have been cured of Hepatitis C, announced Georgia’s Minister of Healthcare Davit Sergeenko.