In 2014, the Greek Ministry of Health adopted an action plan to respond to the HIV/AIDS epidemic among PWID in Athens and the rest of Greece. One of the main aims of the action plan was to enhance the harm reduction response by all involved actors. The 2014-16 National Action Plan on Drugs also mentions harm reduction as one of its objectives.
In recent years, treatment and harm reduction service provision in Greece has been scaled up, mainly with the help of European funds, although these came to an end in 2014. The state funding of these services remains limited.
Low-threshold/harm reduction services are mainly provided by the drug treatment agencies OKANA and KETHEA, which ensure a broad range of harm reduction interventions, in particular regarding prevention and treatment of infectious diseases.
Availability of selected harm reduction responses
NBYear of data 2015.
In Greece, harm reduction interventions include the provision of clean needles and syringes, condoms, printed health education and information materials, and training in safe use and first aid for drug users. In 2015, sterile injecting equipment was provided at fixed locations, at sites serviced by teams of outreach workers and by mobile units. Following the outbreak of HIV in Athens in 2011, harm reduction programmes were expanded beyond the Greater Athens area, with several new low-threshold programmes opened in Thessaloniki. However, harm reduction service coverage in the rest of the country remains low.
Approximately 268 000 syringes were distributed at needle and syringe exchange/distribution sites in 2015, which was fewer than in 2014. The decrease in the number of syringes distributed is attributed to the reduced funding allocated to the programmes run by OKANA. In 2016, the EMCDDA HIV risk assessment noted a low coverage of syringe distribution through specialised services in Greece.
Among the services offered by low-threshold programmes is infectious diseases testing in low-threshold facilities in Athens; vaccination against hepatitis A and B is available free of charge.
Approximately 268 000 syringes were distributed in 2015 through the needle and syringe programmes