Harm reduction training on new drugs for Romanian public and private services professionals


Regional overview

“The EECA countries continue to experience mainly concentrated epidemics with injecting drug users (IDUs) being hit the hardest. Ukraine, with the highest prevalence of HIV infection in the region (1.1% of the adult population according to UNAIDS[i]), for the fifth year in a row, has the world’s fastest growing HIV epidemic according to the UNAIDS. (…)

[South Eastern European countries report ] low HIV prevalence with sexual transmission prevailing. Each country has some peculiarities in reported HIV cases: in Albania, 54% of all cases are associated with migration or travel; in Romania, more than 10,000 children were infected in health settings between 1987 and 1992 and they are now young adults of sexually active age of 17-21. Most newly diagnosed HIV cases are among young adults through heterosexual contact (75%).”

Source: Achieving universal access in Eastern, South Eastern Europe and Central Asia – 2010. An HIV community perspective, Raminta Stuykite and Shona Schonning, January 2011. (UA Report)

HIV epidemic among most at risk populations (MARPs)

Romania is a low prevalence country (HIV prevalence is around 1% in the general population). However, the country has the biggest number of HIV/AIDS cumulative cases in the SEE region: 16,162, compared to 365 in Albania or 120 in FYR Macedonia.

NGOs working with MAPRs report increased number of HIV positive rapid tests. The most affected groups seem to be IDUs and SWs from Bucharest.

Portion of populations who received HIV test in the last 12 months and know its result

Country Adult populations IDUs MSM SW Country
Romania n.d. (no. of tests performed in 2009: 118,981 or around .54% of all population) 19%[1] 75.19% 29.21%. n.d.

Source: Country UNGASS 2010 reports

HIV treatment is fully covered by the state – universal access is officially implemented, even if during the past 12 months PLHIV NGOs have signalled serious errors and gaps in treatment provision.

Additionally, the explosion of legal highs in the past two years has the potential to multiply the epidemic risk due to unsafe using behaviours and the spreading of injecting practices among this population.

IV. Organization background (main activities) and experience in the field of HIV/aids

During 2004-2008, the Romanian Harm Reduction Network has developed, systematised and expanded its training offer for drug service providers. Training is one of the main activities of the organization, along with advocacy and research. The training component aims to increase member or partner organizations capacity in harm reduction and HIV prevention service provision.

The training activities were conducted in 5 cities and implied cooperation with RHRN local members and public institutions, mainly local municipality social work departments.

During the last 4 years, RHRN provided training for more than 500 professionals with different qualifications: social workers, psychologists, medical doctors and nurses, pharmacists, prison guards, police officers.

The main topics in RHRN training curricula are:

  • HIV prevention interventions for MARPs
  • Harm reduction services
  • Syringe exchange program management
  • Opiate substitution treatment
  • Communication and advocacy tools (building advocacy campaigns)

The training curriculum is based on international training guides and a 10 years experience in service provision, networking and advocacy gathered through the network’s members.

Starting with 2010, RHRN has expanded its training program internationally, as training provider to the Georgian Harm Reduction Network (GHRN)