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Health minister promises defeat of Hepatitis C

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, February 27
Georgia’s Health and Labour Minister Davit Segeenko stressed that Hepatitis C will soon be completely defeated in Georgia through a new medicine that will enter Georgia from the United States.

Sergeenko held a press conference on February 26 where he said that the contract about the new Hepatitis C medication would be signed in April between the government of Georgia, the United States Center for Disease Control and the American biotechnology company Gilead Sciences.

According to the agreement, Harvoni - a new generation medicine - will enter the Georgian market. Harvoni was created by using the combination of two existing Hepatitis C medicines - Sofosbuvir and Ledipasvir.

Sergeenko said Sofosbuvir would be the first to be brought to Georgia, which would later be followed by the other medicines.

“The memorandum will be signed in April and several days after, the first batch of the medicine will be brought to Georgia,” the minister said.

He added that the medication will be affordable for everyone.

The Georgian government declared 2015 as the year of fighting hepatitis C, Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Gharibashvili said on January 15.

Aside from introducing the new medicines, the ministry is carrying out inspections of dental clinics and salons are major sites for spreading the disease.

The process has not been completed. However, according to the ministry representatives, the outcome of the inspections were ominous.

They stress that there were clinics and salons that have not been officially registered at all. There were frequent occasions as well when one time instruments were used many times.

The ministry appeals to the population for medical examination, as the disease reveals no symptoms for years.

Hepatitis C is an infectious disease affecting primarily the liver, caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). The infection is often asymptomatic, but chronic infection can lead to scarring of the liver and ultimately to cirrhosis, which is generally apparent after many years. In some cases, those with cirrhosis will go on to develop liver failure, liver cancer, or life-threatening esophageal and gastric varices.

HCV is spread primarily by blood-to-blood contact associated with intravenous drug use, poorly sterilized medical equipment, and transfusions. An estimated 150–200 million people worldwide are infected with hepatitis C.