Good practice examples
GEORGIA – New Vector
treatment-on-site; mobile-ambulatory-unit; drug-users-organization; advocacy-for-human-rights;
TEST-int; LINK; TREAT-int-ext; LTA; PWUD+; PEER; NURSE; MULTI;
Where – Services provided:
distribution of needles and syringes, drug use paraphernalia, condoms; drop-in centre; outreach/street-work; mobile unit.
Who – Target groups:
people who use drugs (PWUD) or inject drugs (PWID); young people at risk; sex workers; men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM); people living with HIV
How – Team composition:
social workers; peer workers (paid and volunteer); medical doctors; nurses; hepatitis reference nurse; hepatologist; art therapist; security guard.
New Vector (established in 2006) is the first ever drug user organisation in Georgia. It offers harm reduction services to people who use drugs (PWUD) including sex workers, men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM) and people living with HIV and also provides educational opportunities to marginalised people. New Vector staff include peer workers, both paid and voluntary.
As the government funded health security is insufficient for vulnerable people, New Vector provides such people with different testing opportunities and medical care, including dental treatment and psychological support. Their clients can visit a wide range of specialised health care professionals and get proper consultations.
The main goal of New Vector is to diversify and be able to offer a variety of services in addition to their existing on-site interventions as well as outreach work and a mobile ambulatory unit and to involve the entire population in its endeavours.
Awareness & Prevention
New Vector has its own ways of raising awareness about hepatitis and informing its clients about HCV, including campaigns on hepatitis awareness for their target groups.
On World Hepatitis Day, New Vector organises information campaigns with volunteers and staff distributing flyers, posters and t-shirts with relevant messages. They also provide free testing on-the-spot for everyone. Their mission is to remind the government and people that individuals living with HCV need to be included in special treatment programmes.
In addition, its specially trained team arranges face-to-face, on-site meetings on different occasions and their clients benefit from an extensive awareness campaign on New Vector social media channels, their website and newsletter. They also have a rich base of handout materials which are distributed on-site and during outreach work. Staff of New Vector are kept informed through internal and external education workshops and trainings.
New Vector provide Fibroscan, dried blood spot and venepuncture testing as well as a Rapid Test that is followed by laboratory confirmation tests, all on-site. Additionally, a client can, if required, get PCR, RNA and HCV core antigen assay externally. In the case of a positive confirmation, the client immediately receives a unique number and, later, treatment.
If a further medical specialist consultation is required, the client may go to another clinic and receive the prescribed medication at New Vector. Pre- and post-test counselling is available to clients with a specially trained counsellor who follows a defined protocol.
Treatment & Care
The relationship between New Vector and its partners is well structured and the referral system in Georgia also works very well. For example, whilst F1 and F2 stage HCV level clients are treated on-site, other stages can be redirected to partner clinics. This transfer takes place effectively without bureaucratic excesses but is, however, still complicated. Therefore, New Vector aims to eventually offer all services under the same roof.
New Vector is faced with a tough and challenging government policy, specifically on drugs. They have a large network of volunteers and would like to diversify their available HCV testing methods but funding is a challenge as government resources are very limited and results-driven while the Global Fund, as important as it is, will cease activities in Georgia, leaving a huge problem behind.
Additionally, despite offering treatment on-site, there are various clients that must travel from other locations to access treatment. Therefore, developments concerning these issues are very much needed.
Advocacy, Sustainability and Transferability
Ten years ago, treatment was very expensive and almost impossible to access. Its long waiting list, specifically on-site, motivated patients to organise advocacy activities to get on-site testing and treatment.
Two years ago, the patient community also started to fiercely advocate for the hepatitis elimination programme. Despite the country’s strict drug policy, changes were made, human rights started to be respected and the government began to be responsive. Currently, New Vector is a member of the Global Fund’s Country Coordination Mechanism (CCM) as well as a member of the State Commission on Hepatitis C, participating in the decision-making process. Whilst the organisation is funded for the next couple of years, there are doubts about its longer-term sustainability.
Clients are anonymously registered by New Vector using a special protocol. After registration, clients receive a unique number for further communication. The collected data is only shared with partner clinics for statistical and research purposes.
New Vector states that the most important aspect of a programme is to have motivated patients and to adopt the right strategy.
c/o De Regenboog Groep
European Harm Reduction
1013 GE Amsterdam
tel. +31 20 570 7829
fax.+31 20 420 3528
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