MMWR News Synopsis
Friday, July 26, 2019
Progress in National Testing for and Treatment of Hepatitis C Virus Infection Among Persons Who Inject Drugs — Georgia, 2018
CDC Media Relations
Following the launch of its hepatitis C elimination program in 2015, the country of Georgia has made great progress in screening and treating people who inject drugs for hepatitis C. Recent data demonstrate high cure rates in this population. In the country of Georgia, with the establishment of needle and syringe programs (NSPs) in 2006 and the implementation of a national hepatitis C elimination program in 2015, substantial progress was made in addressing the epidemics of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and injection drug use. During the three years following the launch of the elimination program in Georgia – 2015-2018 – the number of HCV antibody tests performed and the number of positive test results at NSPs increased nearly 500% and 100%, respectively, compared to the prior nine years (2006-2014). As of 2017, voluntary use of a national identification number (NIN) among people who receive services at NSPs allows for monitoring their linkage to care and treatment, as well as treatment outcomes. Among people referred from NSPs identified in the treatment database, HCV treatment completion rates were high; among those who returned for testing to determine treatment response, nearly 100% achieved cure. Tracking clients referred from NSPs through treatment completion and response allows for monitoring the effectiveness of linkage to care and treatment in this high-risk population, a key to achieving hepatitis C elimination in Georgia. Strategies to encourage people who inject drugs to provide their NIN at NSPs for tracking in the national treatment program are needed. Such tracking is essential to document progress toward achieving hepatitis C elimination in Georgia. Lessons from Georgia may inform other high-burden countries with a similar epidemiology of hepatitis C virus infection.
CDC Media Relations
Initiatives to provide polio vaccine to children in insurgent-held areas of northeastern Nigeria have been mostly successful; however, an estimated 60,000 children in inaccessible areas remain unvaccinated. A new report describes the progress toward polio eradication in Nigeria during January 2018-May 2019. In addition to vigorous vaccination efforts, surveillance in insurgent-held areas has progressively improved. Nigeria’s last reported case of wild poliovirus occurred in September of 2016. With review of further improvements in immunization and surveillance in northeastern Nigeria and neighboring countries, the African Regional Certification Commission may be able to conclude in 2020 that WPV transmission has been interrupted in the WHO Region of Africa. However, since 2018, two outbreaks of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) have affected 14 Nigerian states, Niger Republic, and Cameroon. To achieve interruption of all cVDPV2 transmission in Nigeria and other countries, the quality of subsequent polio mass campaigns must increase and include insurgent-held areas.
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