In Lithuania, the Centre for Communicable Diseases and AIDS at the Ministry of Health collects aggregated nationwide diagnostic data on new cases of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and on human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acute hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections.
The numbers of new HIV cases indicate that there were slight annual fluctuations in the period 2010-15, while the proportion of new HIV cases linked to injecting drug use in Lithuania declined from more than 60 % in 2010 to less than 30 % in 2015. Nevertheless, with 15.1 notifications per million population, Lithuania is among the European countries with the highest rate of newly reported HIV-positive cases linked to injecting. Some data on acute HBV and HCV infections resulting from injecting drug use are also available from the case notifications; however, in the majority of the cases, risk factors are not reported.
HIV prevalence rates among sub-groups of people who inject drugs (PWID) increased to more than 1 % in 1997, but remained consistently below 5 % until 2001. In 2015, a total of 200 clients of harm reduction programmes in three cities (Alytus, Visaginas, Klaipeda) were tested, and the results indicated that HIV prevalence was 12.5 % and HCV antibody prevalence was 77 %, while 10.5 % of those tested were positive for HBV surface antigen (i.e. indicating a current infection)
The information on drug-related emergencies in Lithuania originates from the Institute of Hygiene, which reports the number of contacts with healthcare institutions (inpatient and outpatient) attributable to poisoning by drugs or psychoactive substances. In 2015, a total of 599 contacts were reported, which was an increase compared with 2013 and 2014 (327 and 415 contacts, respectively). This increase was attributed mainly to the rise in opioid- and cannabis-related emergencies (opium, in particular). The mean age of people seeking emergency care was 28 years and the majority were male.
Newly diagnosed HIV cases attributed to injecting drug use
NB Year of data 2015, or latest available year. Source: ECDC.
Prevalence of HIV and HCV antibodies among people who inject drugs in Lithuania
NB Year of data 2014.
Characteristics of and trends in drug-induced deaths in Lithuania
NB Year of data 2015.
Drug-induced deaths are deaths directly attributable to the use of illicit drugs (i.e. poisonings and overdoses).
Since 2012, the General Mortality Register of the Institute of Hygiene has reported a continuous increase in the number of drug-induced deaths in Lithuania, with a record number of deaths in 2015.
Some of this increase can be attributed to the increased number of post-mortem toxicological screens that have been carried out in recent years and to improved toxicological analysis methods and tools.
Most of the victims in 2015 were male and the mean age at death was 34.9 years. Opioids remained the primary substances involved in 102 deaths with known toxicology results (one involved fentanyl and eight involved methadone)
The drug-induced mortality rate among adults (15-64 years) was 59 deaths per million in 2015, more than double the European average of 20.3 deaths per million.
Drug-induced mortality rates among adults (15-64)
NB Year of data 2015, or latest available year.