Since the 2011 human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) outbreak among people who inject drugs (PWID) in Athens, harm reduction service provision in Greece has been scaled up. Low-threshold facilities and outreach programmes focus on the prevention of infectious diseases and of overdose deaths, as well as on the management of health problems among drug users. All drug users attending a drug treatment programme have the right to free medication if they are HIV or hepatitis C virus positive or have other serious health problems (Law No 4139/2013). PWID are also an important target group in the action plan, adopted in 2017, for responding to the hepatitis C epidemic in Greece by creating awareness, improving services and better monitoring.
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. The services offered by low-threshold programmes include testing for infectious diseases in low-threshold facilities in Athens; vaccination against the hepatitis A and B viruses is available free of charge.
In 2016, about 336 000 sets of sterile injecting equipment were provided at six fixed locations in Athens and Thessaloniki, while seven sites were regularly serviced by teams of outreach workers and by mobile units. In 2016, a new needle and syringe programme opened in Athens; however, harm reduction service coverage in the rest of the country remains low. Following reductions in the numbers of syringes distributed at needle and syringe exchange/distribution sites in 2014 and 2015, numbers rose again in 2016, but have not yet reached the same level as in 2013, when more than 400 000 syringes were given out.
In 2016, owing to a vaccination shortage, the number of individuals immunised against hepatitis C shrank to a quarter of those immunised in 2015. Under a new initiative, assessment for fibrosis of the liver is offered to vulnerable groups, and around 1 000 PWID were screened in 2016.
|Country||Needle and syringe programmes||Take-home naloxone programmes||Drug consumption rooms||Heroin-assisted treatment|