HIV epidemic among injecting drug users in Greece

After the early HIV epidemics during the 1980s through the 1990s in Western Europe and North America, combined prevention and care interventions – such as needle and syringe (NSP) and opioid agonist treatment (OAT) programs, HIV testing and linkage to antiretroviral treatment (ART) – were introduced and scaled-up. This approach allowed to control the epidemics among PWID. Disruptions in service delivery due to economic crisis, complacency towards maintaining low HIV incidence in this population or other health threats, such as pandemics, may have a detrimental effect on what has been achieved so far in many countries. The largest of these recent epidemics occurred in Athens, Greece, where HIV prevalence in this population increased from less than 1% in 2010 to 16.5% in 2013.

During 2019–2021, and in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, a community-based intervention offering testing and linkage to care for HCV and HIV infections to PWID was implemented in Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece (ALEXANDROS program). During the intervention implemented in 2019–2021 in Thessaloniki, an increasing number of HIV cases was documented.

The article on the HIV epidemic among injecting drug users in Thessaloniki (second largest city of Greece) has just been published in the International Journal of Drug Policy. The aim of this analysis is to describe this new HIV outbreak among PWID (prevalence, incidence, risk factors for HIV seroconversion) that was documented through this intervention during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The research paper “A new outbreak of HIV infection among people who inject drugs during the COVID-19 pandemic in Greece” was published by the International Journal of Drug Policy, Volume 117. It is available following this link>>>.