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Knowledge Exchange – Georgia

On the 7th and 8th of November in Georgia (Tbilisi) a two-day training was held for specialists from EVA who will be taking part in…

On the 7th and 8th of November in Georgia (Tbilisi) a two-day training was held for specialists from EVA who will be taking part in a new project for HIV prevention among people who use injection drugs.

 

The project will be conducted in three regions: Orenburg, Tumen, and Leningrad oblasts. The teams from these regions met to discuss the details of the upcoming project and to become familiar with the work of Georgian colleagues.

 

The first day was field visits: the training participants visited three organizations in Tbilisi which work on the prevention of HIV among people who use injection drugs:

 

Georgian Harm Reduction Network

 

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The Georgian Harm Reduction Network is a representative of the Global Fund in Georgia. GHRN was established back in 2006. The activity of the organization is connected to harm reduction, HIV prevention, defense of human rights and related issues across Georgia. In the words of one of the network’s representatives, it was challenging to develop relationships with the state structures and to find funding. Yet somehow the network works, and now they have 8 mobile units in Georgia.

 

AKESO – harm reduction in practice

 

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This organization also has mobile units and the staff also conducts outreach on foot and visits nightclubs on the weekends where testing is done. The training participants were able to visit one of the mobile units. “It is apparent that people know about this unit and rather frequently come to the bus,” remarked Anna Sitnikova, a peer counselor from Saint Petersburg. “In Georgia there are no people living openly with HIV because there is so much stigma in the country. During the entire time that they spent at the mobile unit, not one woman came to the bus. The head of the center told us that several times a week their female clients come to a mutual support group where they sew and draw.”

 

New Vetor is a Georgian network of people who use drugs

 

New Vector’s building is a large medical center where one can have a consultation with a doctor or have procedures or tests done. “I was very impressed with the office of this organization, a private building with several floors next to a nursery school. They have everything. One can be tested for HIV, TB, hepatitis B and C and even syphilis,” Yaroslava Medvedeva, a peer counselor from Leningrad region shared. There is currently a great prevalence of hepatitis in Georgia and at New Vector people can be tested for hepatitis and motivated to start treatment (hepatitis treatment is free of charge here), and simultaneously they are offered to be tested for HIV.

 

The second day of the training was a work meeting dedicated to the project. The team’s participants from the various regions got to know one another, discussed the strategy, issues, tasks, and the particularities of working in the Leningrad, Orenburg, and Tumen oblasts and agreed upon indicators.  

 

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