On February 18, Ambassador Kelly attended the screening of a Hepatitis C documentary hosted by Georgia’s Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs (MoLHSA) and joined Minister of Health Davit Sergeenko to be tested for the virus.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infects an estimated 130–150 million persons globally and results in an estimated 700,000 deaths annually from liver cancer or cirrhosis of the liver. Georgia has one of the highest estimated HCV prevalence rates in the world, affecting 6.7% of the population of 3.7 million people (250,000 persons) and is the first country in the world to take on the challenge of eliminating HCV nationwide.
The Georgian government named HCV the country’s top health priority and beginning in 2013, when new oral medications were licensed, Georgia partnered with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and American pharmaceutical firm Gilead Sciences to develop a comprehensive HCV prevention and control plan. The initial phase of the elimination program, launched in April 2015, is focused on improving access to affordable diagnostics and free curative treatment for HCV-infected persons with severe liver disease.