In Cyprus, the current strategy endorses harm reduction as one of its pillars, and defines the following priority areas: (i) integrate and consolidate harm reduction measures within healthcare; (ii) promote harm reduction in nightlife setting. The CAC coordinates the development of strategies to reduce drug-related harm, in close cooperation with the various departments of the Ministry of Health, such as the National AIDS Programme and the Mental Health Services. An important step towards scaling up harm reduction intervention in Cyprus was the adoption of the 2010 reparative law that declassified the provision and supply of syringes and needles by health professionals to injecting drug users as an offence.
The first low-threshold drop-in centre providing needles and syringes to PWID was established in 2014. In 2015, only five clients used the syringe exchange option at the centre, which received a total of 164 syringes. This centre also offers overdose prevention, counselling for risk reduction and safer sex education. In Cyprus, syringes are also available for purchase in all pharmacies. In 2016, a budget was approved to install vending machines across the country that could provide sterile needles and syringes.
Availability of selected harm reduction responses
NBYear of data 2016.
Other harm reduction measures that are provided by all governmental and some non-governmental treatment programmes include (i) testing for infectious diseases, vaccinations and referral for treatment; (ii) information and education; and (iii) medical care whenever necessary. Furthermore, in 2014, the CAC published the report ‘Preventing the spread of infectious diseases in Cyprus’, which contained specific recommendations for harm reduction interventions. With the aim of reducing the risk of the transmission of infectious diseases, the CAC is promoting the implementation of rapid screening by the treatment programmes and explores the possibility of providing takehome naloxone for the prevention of opioid-related overdoses.
The first low-threshold drop-in centre providing needles and syringes to people who inject drugs was established in 2014