Harm reduction: mobile unti service for PWID in Latvia (launched during HAREACT)
Latvia has a potential high risk for HIV among people who inject drugs (PWID), as many other European countries. The first drug injection-related HIV case was diagnosed in 1995 and currently HIV transmitted by drug injection (DI) is a relevant cause of premature death. HIV prevalence among PWID in 2011 was 20% and seems stabilized but incidence remained high in 2012. Both, coverage of opioid substitution treatment (OST) and needle exchange programs are low. A greater development of outreach work and peer involvement is needed. In this context, Mobile outreach units play a crucial role in linkage to care, and until 2017 there was only one in Latvia.
Project: a new Mobile harm reduction outreach unit (MOU) was introduced in Latvia in January 2017. Its general objective is to reduce the incidence of HIV and other blood-borne infections across the region by developing and delivering an outreach needle exchange service, especially at ‘hidden sectors’ and to people not currently in contact with such services. That includes street based sex workers. The NGO DIA-LOGS was chosen to implement a MOU. MOU was developed within the Joint Action “HIV and Co-Infection Prevention and Harm Reduction” (HA-REACT) and is supervised by the Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (CDPC) of Latvia. This MOU provides harm reduction services such as needle exchange, rapid HIV testing and counselling for PWID in Latvia's capital city Riga and surrounding areas.