Following the 2011 human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) outbreak among people who inject drugs (PWID) in Athens, harm reduction service provision in Greece, in particular opioid substitution treatment and syringe programmes, was scaled up in 2012 and 2013. Low-threshold facilities and outreach programmes are provided by two drug treatment agencies (KETHEA and OKANA) and several smaller non-governmental organisations; they focus on the prevention of infectious diseases and of overdose deaths, as well as on the management of health problems among drug users. Drug users attending a drug treatment programme have the right to free medication if they are HIV or hepatitis C virus (HCV) positive or have other serious health problems (Law No 4348/16 Joint Ministerial Decree Oik 25132/4/4/16). PWID are also an important target group in the HCV action plan, adopted in 2017.
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 Athens). Vaccination against hepatitis A and B viruses is available free of charge. Access to HIV treatment has increased in recent years, with around 1 000 people who use drugs receiving antiretroviral therapy in 2017. Results from a large study in Athens suggest that access to treatment for chronic HCV infection is low. Integrated service offers by harm reduction providers and health and social services in the city of Athens aim to increase diagnosis of infections and treatment access of PWID.
Needle and syringe programmes (NSPs) operate in the region of Athens and in Thessaloniki; harm reduction service coverage in the rest of the country remains low. In 2017, around 278 000 sets of sterile injecting equipment were provided at six fixed locations in Athens and Thessaloniki, while seven additional sites in Athens were regularly serviced by outreach teams. The number of syringes distributed through NSPs has decreased over the past 5 years, and, although the estimated number of active injectors has decreased, syringe coverage remains below recommended benchmarks.
|Country||Needle and syringe programmes||Take-home naloxone programmes||Drug consumption rooms||Heroin-assisted treatment|