Final report and recommendations of study on innovative HIV testing methods among MSM

On September 28, 2017 final report and recommendations of KAB/P study on innovative HIV testing methods among men who have sex with men have been released.

In the both documents you may find – (1) final report of the KAB/P study on the implementation of innovative HIV testing strategies contains main results of a study conducted among MSM and stakeholders, and (2) recommendations  for the roll-out of innovative HIV testing strategies based on the results of a study conducted among MSM and stakeholders.

Both documents have been developed by the leaders of WP9 Task1 (Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Madrid) of the Euro HIV EDAT Project with the participation of the working group.

You may find documents in the section “Guidelines / Recommendations” in our web page.

Almost every day – a new HIV patient is registered in Latvia

In the first half of 2017, 149 new HIV positive cases have been registered in Latvia which means that almost every day someone in Latvia receives positive HIV test response, according to the latest data of The Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (hereinafter – CDPC) of Latvia. Comparing to the previous year, the number of new HIV cases has slightly decreased, but specialists still do not see it as a long-term positive trend and link the decrease to the testing activities and the decrease of the population in Latvia.

In the first half of the year there have been149 new HIV cases registered in Latvia which is slightly less than in the first half of 2016 (157 cases). There has also been a decrease in the number of new AIDS cases – 39 new cases registered in the first five months of 2017 (114 cases in 2016 in total).

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“The latest HIV and AIDS statistics are controversial: the number of new HIV cases is statistically decreasing, but it’s clear to professionals in this area that this does not mean a reduction in the number of infections in real life. We need to take into account both the declining population and still low level of testing activities which means more undiagnosed patients. And we also need to keep in mind Latvia’s negative tendency – delayed start of treatment which unfortunately creates a high potential for further spread of HIV infection”, says Inga Upmace, Chairman of the board of NGO” Baltic HIV Association”.

As of the end of last year several non-governmental organizations working in the field of HIV, including NGOs “Baltic HIV Association” and “AGIHAS”, actively informed society about HIV situation in Latvia and invited to make a HIV test at least once a year, as this is the only way to find out person’s HIV status. Responsiveness of the society was high and as a result there was 15% increase of HIV tests made in the 2015. Baltic HIV Association’s collected data from the two largest Latvian laboratories shows that the testing activity continues to grow also in the first half of 2017.

“Non-governmental organizations are constantly working in the HIV field, but we also are having high expectations for the State’s HIV / AIDS Action Plan for 2018-2020, developed by the Ministry of Health. It involves both – informative activities and early treatment for HIV patients which is very important step in reducing the infection”, says Inga Upmace.

According to the CDPC data, there is still a high level of registered HIV cases with unclear way of transmission. During the first four months of this year this number has reached to 32%. As to the identified HIV cases, the majority of them – 59 % – are sexually transmitted. This trend approves specialists’ warning – HIV patients have changed, they no longer represent a limited group of people; they may be anyone, including heterosexual people with good education, work and also family people. But there is also a positive tendency – transmission of HIV from mother to child has decreased significantly – only 1 case on this year (6 cases in 2016).

Sadly, Latvia holds 1st place in the European Union on the newly discovered HIV cases per 100 000 inhabitants, as well as 1st place in the EU on the newly discovered AIDS cases. Since the first HIV patient was registered in Latvia, a total of 7121 HIV positive person has been registered, 5368 of them are alive. But the World Health Organization estimates show that the true number of infected people in Latvia could be at least twice as high, thus around 10 thousand.

Baltic HIV Association actively works within new projects

On September 1, 2017 NGO “Baltic HIV Association” started active field work on two projects – HERMETIC pilot study on innovative HIV testing activities and The Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (hereinafter – CDPC) of Latvia study on the use of addictive substances and the prevalence of associated infections, both within MSM, inviting first men to fill in questionnaires and make the necessary testing.

Active field work within both projects will be held by the end of this year, while the results of the research will be published on NGO’s website in the summer of 2018.

For more detailed information of both studies you may read in the news published – on July 15, 2017 (HERMETIC) and July 30, 2017 (CDPC).

Baltic HIV Association signs a new cooperation agreement with the CDPC on a new research

On July 28, 2017 NGO “Baltic HIV Association” signed an agreement with The Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (hereinafter – CDPC) of Latvia on the implementation of a new study “Study on the use of addictive substances and the prevalence of associated infections in the population of men who have sex with men” until 11 December, 2017.

The aim of the study is to find out the prevalence of various narcotic and psychotropic substances and associated infectious diseases within the MSM in 2017.

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The method used in this survey will be the respondent-led selection method which is currently one of the most recognized selection methodologies in the hard-to-reach community groups, as it gives an option to get deeply into the population and provides the most representative part of the target group. In Latvia such an approach in order to the study a specific target group has never been used before.

In addition to the interviews with MSM, it is planned to make an anonymous testing on HIV, syphilis, viral hepatitis B and C with an approval of the person. The primary testing on HIV, viral hepatitis B and C, and syphilis will be done using rapid tests, while providing both pre- and post-test consultations.

The study is very important due to the fact that there has not been implemented any systematic epidemiological monitoring of MSM recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Latvia which is essential for creating, updating and promoting targeted and specific prevention measures.

NGO’s working group holds its first meeting within HERMETIC project

On July 18, 2017 members of NGO “Baltic HIV Association” working on the pilot study of the HERMETIC project on innovative HIV testing activities in the population of MSM, held the first meeting.

During the meeting participants agreed on the strategic plan of the pilot study and discussed the first necessary actions, insluding the creation of a questionnaire.

The pilot study will help to reduce the number of undiagnosed HIV cases, to follow the HIV prevalence among MSM, and to approbate the innovative testing technology in Latvia – rapid resting with oral secretion.

The first meeting of the participants of the pilot study at Testpunkts (transl. – Checkpoint) premises

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